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Full text of "The Gospel of Sadhu Sundar Singh by Olive Wyon - 1927 - uploaded by Peter-John Parisis"

" 



THE GOSPEL OF 
SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 



FRIEDR1CH HEILER, Ph.D., D.D. 

PROFESSOR OP CUMI'ARATIVE KFUGJON AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MAKHURG 

Alridyd Tranr/afiex 
OLIVE WYON 



LONDON 

GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD. 

MUSEUM STREET 



JAMES WHITE LIBRARY 
ANDREWS UNIVERSITY 

BERRIEN SPSIKGS. MiCHKJM 






Gsrman in 1934 under the titlt : "Sir 
i tn If— •■.,'■ Qstttu and Wgtttns," Fourth German B&Htm, 19*6. 

First published in English in 19J7 

{AH rights reserved) 






" To listen to my voice wlJl do yon no good ; you muit hear 
Hi* Voice. Go into stillness, then jfoj will hear Him updat- 
ing, and you will understand what a mail has found for himself 
who came to you from a. heathen jand ; drill e/one it tahaiiou. 
He who Lives in Him becomes dead to sin and enters into 
eternal life." — SvxJar Siagi in thi Guildhall at Petersgra&t* 
at BasU, March za f igaz. 



Printed in Great Britain by 
Unwin BroAtri, LM„ Woking 



310897 






I 



PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH 
TRANSLATION 

THE late Baron von Huge], himself a man of 
saintly character, and also a sincere admirer of 
Sadhu Sundar Singh,, once said, in speaking 
of htm : "The Roman Church has shown great wisdom 
in refusing to canonise any saints during their lifetime." 
These words are a salutary warning in so far as they 
apply ro those Christians of Europe and America who 
have acclaimed the Sadbu, in a quite extravagant way, as 
the great living Indian Saint. The excellent and useful 
hooka which have been written about Sundar Singh 
up to the present time have served rather to intensify 
the " S&dhu cult P1 than to check it. In a somewhat 
one-sided way they have tended to lay too much stress 
upon the extraordinary and unusual element in his life 
and personality — the miraculous and ecstatic element-' — ■ 
and in so doing they have allowed the essential and 
central element, his spiritual message, to recede into 
the background. The present writer has tried to seize 
upon and illuminate the objective and universal element 
in the Sajhu's life ; his spiritual message. My motto 
baa been those golden words of the Imitatin Christi i 
" Nan tfUagre, guis koc dixerity sed quid dicaiur^ aiterjde" 
Viewed from this angle, his exterior life takes a rela- 
tively small amount of space, and by far the larger part 
of the book deals with his spiritual message. 

In spite of the deep and reverent admiration which 
I fed for the Sadhu and the true and grateful friendship 
whieh binds me to him personally, I have never shirked 

9 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the duty of critical investigation. As a catholic-minded 
Christian, I have considered it my duty to test and 
examine the SSdhu's message in the light of the fiirh nf 
the Church Universal, bj the sense of the corporate 
tradition of the whole of Christendom. Considered from 
this point of view, the Sadhu's message certainly appears 
wonderfully uplifting, consoling, and strengthening ; 
at the same time* however, it betrays a certain one- 
sidedness and limitation of outlook which, although in 
no way diminishing the freshness and power of his 
personality, show that it cannot be applied as a genctal 
rule of life nor upheld as a universal example. But in 
spite of the subjective limitation of the S&dhu's outlook, 
there is no doubt that he has a positive message for 
the Christians of Eastern and Western lands. Indians, 
Europeans, Christians and non-Christians, we can all 
learn from him, and for this reason we ought not to 
wait till we can view his life as a whole, but, while he 
is still with us, we ought to clarify our ideas about him, 
or rather about his message. Like Mahatma GSndhi 
and Rabindranath Tagore, Sundar Singh has a mission 
to the prese it day ; and if we find it useful and sig- 
nificant to speak and write about the former, it can only 
do us good to concentrate our attention upon this 
eminent Indian Christian of the present day while he is 
yet alive. 

The short account of his life contained in the present 
volume differs somewhat from the other books which 
have been written about the Sadhu. This account is 
based Upon information gathered by reliable eye-witnesses 
in India. 

At the present time Sundar Singh is the object of 
heated controversy* Father Hosten, a Jesuit at Dar- 
jeeling, writing in The Catholic Herald sj India (1923- 
192 c\ has tried to prove that the Sldhu is a shameless 



PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION 

impostor, who has invented the greater part of his life- 
story in order to win the reputation of sanctity. German 
Jesuits published these accusations in the paper entitled 
Stimmen d$r Ztit (1924-1926), omitting, however, the 
charge of deliberate imposture ; rather they take the 
view that he is an " Oriental deceiver," a childish 
visionary, who Confounds the creations of his fantasy 
with reality. The Jesuits have been supported by the 
Protestant pastor Dr. O. Pfister, who, in close collabo- 
ration with Father Hosten, has published a large book 
against the Sidhu, which bears the significant title 
The Legend of Sundar Singh (Berne, £926). Pfister 
regards the SSdhu as a neurotic person whose sense of 
reality has been impaired, and who therefore tends, 
although unconscious that he is doing so, to misrepresent 
historical facts. He believes, too, that he has discovered 
other morbid traits, such as sadism, in the SSdhu's 
psycho-physical life. From the point of view of a psycho- 
analyst, he believes that his love to Christ is rooted in 
repressed infantile sex-complexes. 

I have examined with great care the accusations both 
of the Jesuits and of Pfister, and I have caused thorough 
inquiries to be made in India in all directions, The 
result has been most astonishing, I have been forced 
to modify my own critical attitude towards the miraculous 
element in the SSdhu's life and to revise my theory of 
the legendary element. In spite of the fact that all the 
questions which have been raised have not yet been 
answered, it is exactly those narratives which were most 
difficult to accept (such as the story of the MahaVi&hi 
and the secret mission of the Sannyasis) which have 
been most unexpectedly confirmed. Further, the very 
men who have known the Sadhu most intimately for 
Dearly twenty years are those who bear most clear and 
convincing testimony to his sincerity. 

11 



SADHU SUNOAR SINGH 

If the Sidhu's opponents, who have often declaimed 
against him with polemical bitterness, have fastened 
on other points as. well, that is because, blinded by their 
own theories, they have completely lost sight of the must 
elementary rules of historical criticism, and indeed they 
have even gone further thin this. The Jesuits attack the 
Sadhu fearing lest the fact of his sanctity should weaken 
the claim nf the Roman Church to be the only home of 
salute ; Modernist Protestants, on the other hand, 
attack him because they fear that the Sadhu's " miracles " 
may confirm the belief in the miracles of the Bible 
■which they reject. * Sundar Singh bears all these 
accusations and attacks with the greatest calmness and 
joy, and only speaks of hfs opponents with love j he is 
"full of the certainty that God will reveal the truth 
in His own time." 

May it be granted to the English translation of this 
book to further the high enterprise of Christian Missions 
in the land of the Vedas. Above all, may it be received 
both by Christian and nan-Christian Im.Ua as a greeting 
of warm affection and as a sign that we Christians of 
Europe arc ready and willing to receive with gratitude 
that enrichment of life which flows from the spiritual 
treasury of India. 

Maxbuig, 

Tie Ftatf s/ St. Elizabeth, 

November 19, 1916 



' Cf. my reply to the Jesuits : Apettel oder BtlrSgerF Dokumente zwm 
SJiHiiutrtic. Muncheii, Reinbardt, igzj ; and alio the volume which is 
appearing from the same house directed against Pnster, CftriituFWfigi oder 
flystrriktr? Neus Dokumente sum SScLHiusircii. 
12 




CONTENTS 



'■irAci 9 

bnoouc-riQ* 1? 

PART I 

I'm .V.vestjux Faitk of Sundae Sincji .... 19 

1. The History of the Sikh Religion 19 

t. Sikh Doctrine and Worship ...... 35 

PART 11 

]'nr Like Story of Sundar Sincii ...... 37 

1. You tK.. Inner Conflicts: . 37 

j. Conversion 41 

(a) Sundar Singh's Own Account .... 41 

(i) Critical Considerations 4; 

3. Trial and Persecution 50 

4. The SadhuS Sphere of Activity ..... 55 

(1) Missionary Journeys in the East* Sundar Singh 
in North India ; Tibet and Nepal ; South India 

and! the Far Fast ;i 

{£) Missionary Journeyi in the West .... 80 

PART III 

hnmu Sufgs'i Religious Lifr ....... 94 

A. Vita CoolemjjlaliVj 94 

1 . Prayer ......... 94 

j, Ecstasy ,.,.,.,.. 107 

3, Inward Peace J 12 

4. The Joy of tlie Crosa I16 

$. Heaven upon Earth 119 

13 




SADHO SUNDAR SINGH 

R. V'iiA Aciivd * in 

i. Brotherly Lowe lit 

i. Witness for Chmt 127 

3. In the World, yet not of the World . .129 

PART IV 

The Religious Thought-Would op the SIchu . iji 

1. Theologia Eiperi men talis 1J2, 

2. The Conception of Gad . . . . . . 136 

3. The Creation 141 

4. The Living Christ 145 

5. Solvation 163 

6. Miracles .......... 171 

7. The Future Life 185 

8. The BibJe , . . 194 

9. The Church and the Churches . aoi 
jo- Christianity arid Heathenism 215 

PART V 

The Significance of Slivdab Sin^h 322 

t. His Position in the History of the Christian Religion . 322 

2, TJw Significance of Sundar Singh for [ndi* , . . 229 

3. The Significance of Sundar Singh for Western Christianity 250 

BtBj-iocRAFHY 267 

NuTH 273 

IwdIX 275 






INTRODUCTION 



STRANGE guest is standing before the door 

L\ of an English house : a tail, upright figure 

■* *in a long* saffron-coloured robe, with a large 

turban wound round his head. His olive complexion 

bis black beard proclaim his Indian birth ; his 

trl eyes, with their gentle expression, reveal a heart 

rest, and they shine with an infinite kindness. The 

anger gives his name to the girl who opens the door : 

Ihu Sundar Singh. The girl gazesat him for a moment 

1 astonishment, then she hastens to call her mistress : 

re is someone at the door who wishes to sec you 4 

■ H ; I can't pronounce his name, but he looks like 
*u» Christ I n (i) 

\i .i meeting in a certain town in America a three- 

i child was sitting in the front row. She was 

with all her might at the speaker — that mysterious 

11 1 he .saffron robe. When the speaker had finished 

In address and had sat down, the little gir] said in a 

cli u high voice, which rang through the hall : " Is he 

I 11 t Ihrist ? " (2) 

The English girl and the American child were not 

th< only people who instantly perceived the sanctity 

Mid divine vocation of the Indian visitor who reminded 

■ ■ much of our Lord, Many men and women, 

both in Asia and in Europe, who had the good fortune 

■ him hit as though he were a reincarnation of one 

real men of God from Bible days. " Wherever 

you hear people Saying : ' How like he is to 

1 ' " writes Mrs, Parker, his friend and biographer. 

|enn Meury, a missionary among the Mahrattas, 

*5 



[ 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 
says : "The man is a living sermon : I have never 
met anyone who helps you to see Christ as he docs." 
Even the well-known American theologian, Frank 
Buchman, of the Hartford Theological Seminary, sums 
up h 



ression of the Sadhu in these words ; " He 



_p his imp: 

is more like Christ than anyone we have ever seen," 

This intuitive impression is confirmed by all we 
learn of the life and teaching of this remarkable man. 
In the wonderful story of his life, and in his apostolic 
activity, this Indian Christian disciple resembles the 
great apostle of the Gentiles. Like Paul, Sunday Singh 
wis converted in a wonderful manner by a vision cf 
Christ! like him also, Sundar Singh was changed from a 
bitter enemy into a devoted disciple and apostle ; like 
Paul, again, he did not receive the Gospel from man, 
" but , . . through revelation of Jesus Christ " ; like 
him also, he has travelled over land and sea in order to 
bear witness to the grace and power of his Saviour ; 
like him, he has done and suffered all things for the sake 
of the Gospel ; like P.iul } he can say literally : 

" In labour! more abundantly, in priso™ more abundantly, in stripes 
above measure, in deaths oil . . . in journeyings often* in perils of 
rivers* in perils of robbers , . . in perils in the city, in perils in the 
wilderness ... in labour and travail, in watctungs often, U hunger 
and thirst, in futinp often, in cold and nakedness." " In everything 
commending ourselves as miniiters of God, in wocb patience, in ifflic- 
(fcuuv in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, 
in labours, in watching?, in fastings . . , by evil report and gocd report. 

The outward and inward resemblances which can be 
found between the lives of Paul and the Sadhu are sur- 
prising. A Swiss minister says : " I believe that right 
down the centuries no one has been more like Paul 
than the S3dhu, in his message, as well as in other 
ways, not only because he happens to be an Oriental, 
but because, like Paul, he Is possessed by Christ to an 
unusual degree." 

ID 



INTRODUCTION 

minv way*,, however, Sundar Singh is still more 

Jul Lord as He was upon earth. Like Jesus of 

i', he wandered homeless from village to village, 

i (own '11 town ; like the Master, often "he had not 

:.i lay his head," Like Him, he withdraws 

H ' "il) into the solitude of the hills, where, far from 

i brethren, he spends hours in deep communion with 

I i' i n.il Father. Like Him, he proclaims the Gospel 

ir language, which can be understood by alT ; 

i in, too, he is a master in the art of teaching through 

ibl ; which help dull minds to catch something of 

n aning of the heavenly mysteries. Like Him, he 

full ol Jove for children, and always. " suffers the little 

" to come to him. He has left all to follow his 

cr — home, family, and possessions ; in order to 

Him completely he took quite literally the com- 

" Get you no gold nor silver in your purses ; 

■ willet for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, 

noi staff." And as the instructions of Jesus were 

hh ully obeyed by htm, so also the prophecy of Jesus 

been literally fulfilled in his life ; "Before governors 

nut kings shall you be brought for My sake, for a 

Liny to them and to the Gentiles. 1 * 

in the life of Sundar Si ngh we see part of the Bible 

In liny being lived out before our eyes ; that life of" the 

ir and of His apostle which to so many of our 

hmporaries. seems either an incredible legend or an 

unattainable ideal has become once more concrete and 
li m il in the life of this man of God. " At every turn," 
". Swiss pastor already quoted, " the New Testa- 
comes alive in all its varied wealth of inner and 
outer experience ; through him we see it among us in 
nil its richness and wonder." 



SUNDAR SINGH 



Part I 
E ANCESTRAL FAITH OF SUNDAR SINGH 
i. The History or the Sikh Religion 

RftlS Christian apostle of the present day, whose 

Hfc is a veritable " Mirror of Christ," comes 

It in that great country of religion — India. None 

the other non-Christian lands possesses such a rich 

■ of religious wealth as the land of the Ganges and 

Indus. From those far-off days when the holy rsi 

ccivt'd the inspiration which they embodied in the 

ilii Hymns, the stream of religious life, gradually 

; into many different channels, has flowed 

ugh the centuries right down to our own times, 

the infinite variety of India's heritage of religion, 

win li our scientific research has not yet been able fully 

' ■ urvcy, some leading tendencies emerge : the rich 

in and asceticism of Brahmanism, the deep mystical 

uf the Ved3.nta, the artificial spiritual discipline 

i the Yoga, the profound doctrines of Buddhism, the 

i in:; theocentric devotion of the Bhakti, and the 

ing zeal of Islam, These widely varying types 

.mil cross each other again and again in the history 

' n I " ■ i . .i-i in India. One of its most remarkable com- 

ns is the Sikh religion, the ancestral faith of 

I hi Sikh religion is a reformed faith which tried to 
i higher synthesis between Hinduism and Islam. 

19 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 
Its founder was Gum Nanak, who belongs to that group 
of great religious Bhakii of the Indian medieval period 
with which we associate the names of Chaitanya, Nam 
Dcv and Kablr ; the latter had already achieved a 
union of Hindu and Islamic-Sufi piety. Nanak was 
born In 1469 at Rayapur, near Lahore, in the Punjab, 
of wealthy parents ; very early in life he left the world, 
donned the saffron robe of an ascetic, and became a 
fakir, a wandering saint, or, in the language of the 
Indian Middle Age?, a Udhu, He sought salvation in 
ill the existing religions and cults of his day, but 
without success. 

" I have consulted the four Vcds., but these writings find not God's 
limiu + I have conatilttd the four books of the Mohammedans, but 
God'i worth is not described in them. 1 have dwelt by rivers and 
streams, and bathed at the sixiy-eighl places of pilgrimage ; L have lived 
afliong the forests and glides of the three worlds, atld eaten bitter and 
sweet; I have Seen the seven nether regions, and heavens upon heavens. 
And I, Nanak* say : man shall be true to hi* faith if he fear G od and do 
good works." ' 

This was the new truth which Nanak found after 
strenuous search, and which from that time forward he 
never tired of proclaiming everywhere. In order to 
preach this message he undertook long missionary 
journeys, to eastern India, Ceylon, Kashmir, and even 
to Mecca. This Sadhu, who was both a mystic and a 
prophet, led a most varied iife, full of wonderful events, 
and after his death his memory was adorned, like 
that of so many of his predecessors, with a wreath of 
legendary tales. 

In the centre of his message was the thought of the 
Unity of God, the Omnipresence of God, and the duty 
of spiritual worship. Rites and sacrifices he considered 
useless ; the true worship of God consisted in this : 

■ M. A. Macauliffe, the SUA &-%im, vol. i, p, 179. 



Q ANCESTRAL KAlTH OF SUNDAR SINGH 

(raise God anew every morning and to dedicate 

elf, body and soul, to the Creator. He declared that 

distinctions and religious differences were tion- 

Ii.iL "There is no Hindu and no Muslim" 

Ins. motto, " 1 reject all sects, and know only the 

God whom I see in earth, and heaven, and 

1 ere." The equality and brotherhood of all 

1 was the high ideal which he preached. At the same 

. Imwever, this broad and spiritual religion of Nanak's 

rictly a religion of authority. In spite of the fact 

thai he himself was a humble religious man, he required 

from those who joined him an unconditional obedience, 

, the lacrijicium inieilectus. The authoritative 

tcr of his religion is implied in its name ; Sikh — 

1I1 ■! is, " scholar," " one who learns, 1 ' " disciple of the 

"—of the Representative of God. 

At his death Nanak entrusted the continuation of his 

work to one of his servants named Angad. Thus his 

1 1. i..iii;il dignity as a Guru became a sort of ecclesiastical 

The third Sikh-Guru, Amar Das, like Nanak, 

great hymn-writer, whose poems still live in the 

I of the Granth. N&nnk's fourth successor, Guru 

I >ls (1 5-74-1581), played an influential part in the 
■ development of the Sikh religion. He established 
ignity of the Guru as an hereditary office. Above 
ill, he gave to the Sikhs a centra! sanctuary, a Mecca, 
1 he " Gulden Temple " of Haximandar (i.e, the Temple 
r>| 1 Ik Harl), which rose in the midst of the Sacred 
I uik ' at Amritsar. 

Scarcely less important is his son, Guru Arjun (l 5S1— 
1 6 1 '■), who gave the Sikh religion its sacred book in the 
,1 11 1604. He added same of his own poems to the 
Writings of Nanak and Amar Dls, and also a quantity 
I 1 proof texts from the writings of Kablr, Nam Dev, 

< Sanskrit : amrtm-Htrai = " Pool of ttt m OftlJ It y" 









SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Ravi DSs and Farfd. This holy book, which was Com- 
posed in mediaeval Hindi and written in Gurmukhi 
character, a degenerate form of Devanagari (of the 
Sanskrit alphabet), became the Granth — that is, " the 
Book " par excelhnie^ the sacred canon of the Sikh 
Scriptures, the source of inspiration and of doctrine, 
which inevitably lessened the influence of the Vedas 
and the Pur£nas. From that day forward the study of 
the Granth became obligatory for every Sikh, and indeed 
the only way of salvation. Like Islam, Judaism and 
Maz-daism, the Sikh religion became the religion of a 
book* Guru Arjun died as a martyr for his faith at the 
hands of the Moslems. His son, Guru Har Govind 
(1606-1638)5, made war on the Mohammedans in order 
to avenge his father's death. By this act Sikhism fell 
away from the original teaching of Nanak, who denounced 
all violence, and who had always preached patience, 
forgivingness, and endurance of suffering. Through 
Har Govind the Sikh religion was led intn the warrior 
path of its mortal enemy, Islam. It is true that the ninth 
Guru, Teg Bahadur, once more adopted the simple life 
of a fakir which had been led by Guru Nanak, but his 
own son, Govind Singh, the tenth in the succession 
from Nanak (1675-1708), renewed the warlike Spirit 
of Har Govind. It was he who turned the whole Sikh 
community into a great eecfctUt militant) a disciplined 
military organisation. He it was who swore hatred and 
revenge against the Mohammedans on account of the 
martyr death of his father, Guru Teg BahSdur, and con- 
ceived the daring idea of the destruction of the Moslem 
power in India. In order to weld all the followers 
of the Sikh religion into one, he decreed that all Sikhs 
should belong henceforth to one high caste, which bore 
the name of khalsa (from the Arabic halts), " the pure." 
The equality of all Sikhs — as also their warlike spirit — 




ANCESTRAL FAITH OF SUNDAR SINGH 

to be further emphasised by the addition of the 
Singh. 1 In order to make this uniformity more 
Nffte, 1 Jovind strove to secure a strict external differ- 
between the Sikhs and the rest of the Hindus and 
■BUnedfLns, He forbade his followers to use the 
,i., the Slstras, or the Koran, nor were they to honour 
luthority of the Brahmans or the Mullahs. He 
fur Utile them to visit temples or holy places, or to observe 
il" traditional Hindu ceremonies, and they were not 
I" wear Hindu religious signs. As the outward mark 
kh, Singh prescribed the five "i*s" : tes (long 
kach (short knee-breeches), kara (knife), kripan 
1), and kangha (comb). In order to inspire the 
spirit of the Sikhs he composed martial hymns 
in which he summoned his people to fight against the 
us, and added them to the existing sacred writings 
Under the title of the "Granth of the tenth King" 
'.■ Padlisaka Granth), Govind's social and religious 
. were only partially carried through \ in practice 
found impossible to uproot either caste differences 
.1 I Imdu Customs. Neither were all his hymns accepted 
of the canon of the Granth. More and more the 
incient writings written and compiled by Guru Arjun 
singled out from all the rest as the 4digranih (or 
riginal source). The permanent element in Govind 
work of reform was the military organisation and 
rhi warlike spirit. From that time forward the Sikh 
religion became literally a militia ; the "disciples" 
had become " lions," the believers had turned into 
warriors, and saints and martyrs into soldiers. 

" Blessed be the life of him who repeats continually 
the Name of God with his lips, and who cherishes in his 
heart thoughts of war " — in this sentence Govind Singh 
lOms up the warlike piety of later Sikh religion ; at the 

• Sanskrit : lintha =• " Liau." 

23 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

same time it reveals the falling away from Guru Ninak's 
exalted ideals. 

(rewind Singh was the last Sikh Guru. As the dying 
Buddha gave the Dhnrmt> t the doctrine, to his disciples 
as their future master, so Govind Singh solemnly declared 
the Granth to be the abiding Guru, " Let him who 
wishes to obey me obey the Guru Granth. Obey the 
Granth Sahib. He is the visible body of the Guru." 
This spiritual Guru proved itself, indeed, the true com- 
mander of the kktilut ; in many external events the 
Sikh community received strength from it. In the 
nineteenth century there was an unexpected political 
development. Ranjit Singh (b. 1780, d. (839) took 
the title of a Maharaja and created a great Sikh kingdom 
which he organised on European lines. But this state 
only lasted a short time ; in 1845 the English overcame 
the heroic resistance of the Sikh people and robbed them 
for ever of their political independence. This political 
loss, however, had this result : the religious uniqueness 
which was the gift of Nanak and Govind Singh became 
much fainter, and Hinduism gained an ever stronger 
influence. Of recent years the Sikh religion has no 
longer shown that clear distinction between itself and 
the religious world of Hinduism ; in the opinion of 
the scholar Oltramare, Sikhism has become "entirely 
Hindu." Its followers now attend the Hindu sanctuaries, 
visit mosques, and watch Hindu ceremonies. To the 
present day,, however, the Sikhs have preserved the 
warlike spirit of Govind Singh ; they supply the best 
troops for the Anglo-Indian Army, and they proved 
their mettle again and again during the World War. 
But the religious spirit of Nanak and Arjun cannot 
die so long as the Granth remains the Sikh Bible. In 
fact, of late years 1 new movement has arisen which 
studies the Granth with great enthusiasm and seeks 

H 




ANCESTRAL FAITH OF SUNDAR SINGH 

w l he Sikh religion in all its original spirituality 
iniversality. At the Berlin World Congress for 

I 1 l.ristinmty and Religious Progress (1910) a Sikh 
Itllul.ir From the University of Amritsar spoke of the 

1 I greatness of his religion, and declared in glowing 
tonus that " the second epoch of Nanak's mission had 
beg tin." The English scholar, Max Arthur Macauliffe, 
1I1. n. Iks the same hopes ; and he is working with 
i inici.1 Sikhs to make their sacred writings known to 

I I West. The AhVi Movement* which recently swept 
, North India like a whirlwind, has unexpectedly 

tied the hopes of a renaissance of the Sikh religion, 

• n.l Ins revealed once more its abiding vitality. 

%, SlKSl DOCTBIHK AND WORSHIP 

I i ie doctrine of the Sacred Book of the Sikhs, the 

Gi ili, is a pronounced Monotheism, with a marked 

of Pantheism. This religion, like Islam, lays 

emphasis upon the belief in One God. Like pious 

I I ins, who daily repeat their L,1 Uah" iliS* 'I/.U t 

HI e believing Jews, who remember daily the Jahwe 

. :, 1 he devout Sikh must make this confession in the 

• luh morning prayer which has been handed down from 
1.. lime of Nanak: "There is but one God, whose 

N.ime is True, the Creator. The True One was in the 
beginning ; the True One was in the primal age. The 

I (■ One is, was, O Nanak, and the True One also 
■ lull be." ' In spite of this statement, however, the 

ttlth s s belief in God differs from that of primitive Islam 
! Judaism. When we examine it more closely 
ire find that the conception of God held by NSnak 
and Arjun is the same as that held by Indian and 5013 
Hiytticism. God is nirguna and s&ruagum^ lacking all 

■ M. A, Macautiffe, The SUA Reiigim, vol. i r p. 35. 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 
distinct qualities and yet including all. He is absolutely 
transcendent, far above all differentiations, without 
any attributes or qualities ; nothing can be stated 
about Him, He is an entire void, an infinite emptiness^ 
$uxn t the expression used in the Granth, which is taken 
from Buddhist theology. At the same time He is also 
entirely immanent, contained in everything visible, 
differentiated, and in all the qualities of things ; He is 
the " Life IB all that has life," " as much in the duck as 
in the elephant " ; above all, God *' is in the heart of 
every human being/' and here He works as " inner 
Light." u Wherever I look there is God ; no one else 
is Been.** 1 God is "the all-pervading, undefinable., un- 
fathomable Ixjrd, within and without all things," 3 
w fir from all and yet with all, He is the One and He is 
the Many," " He is the greatest of all great beings, and 
at the same time the smallest of the small." He is the 
cvincidentitt oppdiilorum^ the polarisation of emptiness 
and fullness. The hymns of Arjun especially circle 
round within this " harmony of contrasts," of transcen- 
dence and immanence in the idea of God. The thought 
of the lv teal irai> is sometimes expressed in the paradoxical 
ascriptions of identity so much beloved both by Vedantist 
and still more by Sufi mystics. Thus Guru NUnak says : 

" God h the fisherman and die fish. He is the water and He the 
Kt | He Himself is that from which the net i^ mads, He is also tae 
desire within the fish." Guru N&i&k prays: "Thou art the ocean. 
Thou art the foam, and Thou too art the bubhje," 

This connection between the Creator and the creature, 
the Deity and the world, is expressed in truly pantheistic 
style as expansion {pasara). " By Himself He extended 
His own Being." Yet at the same time this universal 
divinity which is called by the primitive name of Brahma 

* M. A. Macauliffe,. The SUA Rc!igi/:n r vol- i, p. 3191 
1 Ibid., vol. iii, p. 311. 




I- ANCESTRAL FAITH OF SUNDAR SINGH 









Lt-ived as personal, and is addressed in personal 

He is called "Father** and "Saviour." He 

the personal titles of the Saviour-God : Fisnu, 

r.ihur (Sanskrit : Paramrh'ara t " highest Lord *'), 

a ("great Guru"), Hari, Ram Govind. Here is 

Mm • I -Injun's prayers, which breathes so personal and 

Id like a spirit that it reminds us of one of the 

p.ilni-; of the Old Testament : 

! li 11 r< my Father. Thou art my Mother, Thou art ray cousin, 

: my brother; in all things Thou art my Protector. How 

■ : i.ire touch me, O Lord ? By Thy mercy I have felt Thee. 

J in it my support, Thau a:t my Refuge. There is none beside 

I Thy will and Thy "■oik arc over all. By Thee have all 

iH been crested [ all are set where it pleases Thee; all that 

• ■ ittd i? Thine ; nothing is ours, O Lord," 

tt I'ing for Thee, we thirst for Thee, only in Then does our heart 

«i...| n 1. 1) Lord." 

■ liild is refreshed when it has drunk mili, as a poor man is 
I when things go well with him, as a thirsty man is refreshed 
to is my heart made gkd in. Han, O Lord." 
. ump shines il the darkness, as ollc who watches for his spouse 
lien lie appcarcth, so exults lay heart in lore !o Iiari, my Lord." 

s prayer sounds utterly Christian 1 

" I cannot live for a moment without Thee. 

I urn miserable without my Belovtd, I have no friend!' When I 
luvi I'hee i have everything j Thou, O Loid, art my Treasure. . . . 
1 and thirst for a sight of Thee." * 

So in the prayers of the Sikh saints a childlike personal 
I Mill is evident at every turn. Their prayers are full of 

, warm love and deep confidence in the personal 
« rod, the Friend and Saviour of the soul. At times this 
H'ltti adopts the fiery language of love-poetry.. Jaya- 
Ujvas Gltagovinda, the Song of Songs of India, 

so inspired the hymn-writers of the Granth. Yet 
. vi it in prayers which overflow with love to God> that 

, p. ijS. 



■ M. A. Macauliffc, TAt Sikh Religion, 
> IbrJ., vol. i, p. 87. 



27 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

curious oscillation between personal Theism and imper- 
sonal Pantheism, characteristic of Sikh, Sufi, and BhaJtti 
religion, appears again and again. They also use the 
mystical phrase implying immanence : " Thou art 
mine and 1 am Thine." Indeed, it is supremely in prayer 
that they feel that they live and expand in the infinite. 
The favourite metaphor of Indian pantheism expressing 
the relation between Gad and the soul appears also in 
Sikh prayers : "Thou art the ocean and we are Thy 
fishes." From the personal intercourse of prayer the 
soul rises finally into the impersonal sphere of substantial 
union with Cod. Even on the lips of NSnak we hear the 
phrase of the Vedas : so '/iam {" I am He, I myself am 
God "). 

With this rich and varied conception of God arc com- 
bined the primitive Indian ideas of mayJ and samara. 
The multiplicity of things seen and temporal weaves a 
veil of Maya between humanity and unseen reality, so 
that it is unable to discern the unity of the Godhead \ 

" By lIic fair illusion* of Miy.i the world is deceived, and rardy does 
3 man perceive the truth." a [n this spiritual hfindness their human 
hirili h lost. Being fuund, ihrv arc beaten at the gate of Yams. ; they 
dit and are bom repeatedly. 3 " ' 

He who falls a prey to the illusion of the senses and 
is suffocated by the errors of multiplicity must die and 
be reborn, must wander on and on in the cycle of the 
transmigration of souls. To this root idea of the Indian 
philosophy of life is now added a root idea of Islamic 
piety ; the idea of Ktidar, of the absolute destiny of 
Fate and predestination, of the dscrslttm aetemum. 

" By Hi* order ail art produced, by His order they do their wort." 
" Lite a lost creature, dud wanders about in many incarnations. Me an 
actor lie reveals many sides of his nature ; as it pleases the Lord, so inusi 




1 Cft lvrfilt Trumps Tf,t Aiihi Crmti, p. 96. 



ANCESTRAL FAITH OF SUNDAR SINGH 

. that which js right in Hii eyes must take place." ** As He 
Mm. Il htt created the world and it ii spread abroad by three qualities, 

11 1$ religious guilt or merit, what U it i He appoints one for 
' .mother for Heaven." " God dwells only in the hearts of 
I hi"- for whom His gra.ee lias been appointed from the beginning." 

fhis denial of human free will, however, does not 
harmonise with that strong sense of sin which is so 
1 ■> 'eristic of the Sikh religion. Again and again 
iln religious poets of the Granth confess their deep sin- 
fulness and Cry for mercy and grace : 

R leem the sinner, that is the prayer of Nanak, my soul." " I 

ic-r„ Thou alone art pure. As the waters cover the sea, scare 

hi number* Give nic Thy grace, have pity, that 1 sink not a* 

into the depths of the sea." 

" We commit many sina of which there is no end. O God, be meici- 

"i 1 1 leased to pardon tJiem. We are great sinners and transgressors. 

Thou pardoneit and blende&t unto Thee j Otherwise h will not 

ur turn to be pardoned," ' 

and forgiveness — the central theme of the Bible 

I the Christian experience of salvation — these ideas 

cry prominent in the prayer-life of these Sikh 

1 rs. Their certainty of the forgiving love of God 

I (In- secret of their joyful sense of salvation. " My 

ul is reconciled to God, and 1 am overwhelmed with 

I h . wonderful love " — so exults Amar Das in the bliss 

• I his experience of salvation. Like the Old and the 

BW Testament, the Granth proclaims that without 

humility there is no salvation and no grace, "The 

if< of salvation is narrow; only the humble can enter 

therein." " Pride hinders a man from finding God." 

Hut as personal and impersonal ideas conflict in their 

it of God, so also do they contradict each other 

in their doctrine of salvation. Once more these devout 

•ul. forget that eternal bliss is bound up with the 

Divine Gift of salvation, and they begin to long after 

■ M. A. Micauiirfe, Tkt SiH Religion, vol. ii, p. 150. 

29 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Nirvan r (absorption into the Supreme), Personality, 
sclf'Consciausncss, individuality, all disappear, swallowed 
up in the ocean of the infinite Godhead. Nanak says ; 
11 The disciple is absorbed." In the unconscious bliss 
of a soul which has lost its individuality, as it is taught 
in the Uji:inishads and the Buddhist SuUa-Pi/akam y the 
Sikh saints also seek mukaii^ (the final redemption from 
sin t sorrow, and the endless cycle of rebirth). 

" In rhe highest sphere there is neither joy nor sorrow, neither hope 
nor desire, neither caste nor caste marks, there is neither speech ngr song. 
In the highest sphere lives- naught but the vision of the Divine." 

This Brahman-Buddhist view of the austere un- 
conscious bliss of Nirvana is varied, however, in Sikh 
writings, by the marc colourful Mohammedan concep- 
tions of heaven. The Granth speaks of Sach Khand (the 
1 true kingdom"), a sort of Paradise in which the faithful 
Sikh will receive the eternal reward for all his steadfast 
faith and love of God. 

Thus we see that the conceptions of God and of sal- 
vation held by NSnak and his followers are a varied 
eclectic blend of Hinduism and Islam. The scholar 
Oltramare puts it very well when he says that the reli- 
gion of the Sikhs is " a kind of whirlpool in which are 
intermingled streams from every direction." Ved&nta, 
and Bhagavadgita, KorSn and Sufi writings, and finally 
the Bhakti poems of mediaeval India — all have contri- 
buted to the tradition which has formed the Granth. 
Nanak's teaching, however, is very clearly distinguished 
from Islam and from Hinduism by its decided spirituality. 
Nanak denounces the lip-service of the mere recitation 
of the Vedas and the Sastras as strongly as the wide- 
spread worship of idols in Hindu temples. Just as 
strongly, too, he condemns the ceremonial legalism 
and self-righteousness of Islam, as a dark contrast to that 

■ Sanskrit s NinJx. » Siruixit : wtkii. 

3° 




ANCESTRAL FAITH OF SUNDAR SINGH 



hip of God which is found in the hearts of those 
11 worship Him in spirit and in truth," 

:■ 93 thy mosque, sincerity thy prayer-carpet, what is juit 
Uwttil thy Quran* 

!■■ thy circumcision, civility thy fasting, so shall thou he a 
F MtlMlinaii . . . 

Thric fire five prayers, five times for prayer, and five names for them — 
The first should be truth, the second what is right, the third charity 

mime, 
J he lojrth good! intentions, ihc fifth the praise and glory of God." ' 

N.tiuk pillories the rigid asceticism of the Brahmans, 
is, andtheSannyasis ; 

mm a limb in the fire, to stand in water, to fast, to endure great 
•id, to hold one arm up for .1 lung lime together, to stand upon 
.ill these worts of penance are worts of darkness." 

Ill even goes so far as to warn his readers against 
tin mendicant friars : 

1 ' lot reverence those who call themselves guru and pir (an Arabic 
in tor a guru) and who beg for alms. Only those who live by 
it their labour and do honest and ireful work arc in the way 
" Ye should live as hermits in your own homes." 

Nfftnak deals in a very fine way with the external, 
' ml, ascetic element in religion — in part he rejects 
ll iltogcther, and in part he lifts it into the spiritual and 
■ I.', il sphere. But he has been unable to carry this 
[■iiiiu.il point of view right through to its logical 
Boni liision. Man belongs to two worlds, the world of 
1. 11 and the world of spirit, and in order to help him 
liip he naturally desires some tangible represen- 
tation of the invisible God. To the Sikh as to the 
1 and Siva mystics and to the worshippers of 
Buddha Amitabha, the tangible, sacramental sign of the 

■ I God :s the Holy Name of God. The Divine 

N.iini- is the tangible Presence of God, It contains the 
of His supernatural might ; it has magical power. 

1 M. A, Msc.il JilTt'i Th< Sikh Religion, vol. i, p. 35. 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 
" To possess the Name means to possess the Presence 
of God ; he who possesses this Presence is henceforth 
free from fear." He who pronounces the Name of 
Hari (one of the many titles of Vishnu-Narayana) 
attains in so doing the fullness of wisdom, salvation, 
and blessedness. Unceasingly the writers of the Granth 
praise the power of the Divine Name : 

" Tie rjilcf m»A* (i.e. iht mafic formula, lie Name : Hjti) contain 
ill tnowkdgc (science). If any r.emko of tte four caalr. muraiim 
the Name, whoever he may be, his salvation is asjured. 

" However deeply a man may study and understand the Vitrei (holy 
boob) and the mnt (uadiuons) without the Name, final salvation ouuiol 

" Murmur Ihe Name of Hari : tfari, my heart, that brings comfort 
by div and by night. , 

MutmuT the Name of Haii : Hari, my heart, for lie thought ot 
Him drives away sin and care. 

Murmur the Name of Hari ! Hari, my heart, litis is die end oi liunjee 
and poverty" 

More clearly still the invisible God reveals Himself 
to the devout soul in the personality of the holy teacher, 
the Guru. For the Sikh the Gum is what a Divine 
incarnation is to the Hindu. In phrases which agree 
almost word for word with the Gospel of John the 
Granth proclaims that the Guru is the Vcus villMs 
(" God Himself in Person ") : 

" Tic Gum is God and God is the Guru 1 there is no diffctencc 

between them." " God and ihe Gun. ate one. Hie Word is the 

Gum, the Guru Is the Wont" " The Guru is the Creator, tic (jural 
is the Artist t without lie Guru there is nothing ; what the Guiu 
svills, that happens." " O God, tie Guru has shown Tiec to 
mine eyes." 

As incarnate God the Guru appears as the only 
mediator, the way to Panmtshur (the " Lord of All ") : 

" Without tie Guru mart has no love for God, the filrja of selfishness 
cannot be removed " (NSaali). "The true Guru is ihe true Lord; 
31 



1 111: anc 

: 1, His w„ 

, . nue Gu 






, Ill,' 



_ 






ANCESTRAL FAITH OF SUNDAR SINGH 

Word union with Cod is achieved " (Amar Dis). *• Wi'lh- 
Guni no nun can reach Txrfcction." " The Guru is fa 
Guru is the boat; the Guru is the raff, ihe name oi Htri. 
ni is die pond, the Jake, the Guru is the ttrtia (th* wcred tank) 
«ccan " (Naaafc). Nanak .even says: "A man hatli tome by 
mi the whole world shall be saved." ' 

As the visible representative of God the Guru claims 
divine honour, worship., believing submission, and un- 
uii.irional obedience. To the Guru has been dedi- 
cated a service almost amounting to worship "such as 
zly been known in the history of religion." Arjun 
the Sikhs : " Wash the feet of the righteous and 
'li ink ihe water, offer your life to the righteous ; perfect 
il.v . leansing in the dust of the righteous, and become a 
1 .(ice for them." 

The custom of drinking the water in which the Guru 
ihed his feet was in olden times (before Govind 
a ceremony of consecration by which a religious 
In red himself a disciple of the Guru {carampahul). 
I his glorification <jf a human being seems to degrade 
fJU Spirituality of the Sikh religion as much as the 
RWgk cult of the Sacred Name, To this day, however 
their actual worship is puritan in its severe simplicity. 
In the Golden Temple at Amritsar there is no idol. In 
ill- I [oly of Holies there are only a few copies of the 
Onuith, which are placed upon silken cushions. Day 
if.! night there is an unceasing offering of liturgical 
j'i.m ci in this place. To the accompaniment of stringed 
instruments the Gran this, "those learned in the scrip- 
tures " (who, however, are not priests) sing passages 
tiMin the Granth. (The homage which is paid to the 
fared Book is indeed little different from the homage 
of the Hindus to their idols.) As the Jews had their 
synagogue in addition to the Temple, so in addition to 
ihe sanctuary of Harimandar the Sikhs have D/tarm- 
Macaditfc, Tie Sikh R/fyisn, »qI. m, p. jjg 

33 



SADMU SUNDAR SINGH 

siiSt (" halls of the sacred doctrine," plain and un- 
adorned buildings in which the Granth is read aloud 
and explained). The recitation of passages from the 
Grnnth is the only religious ceremonial at all domestic 
celebrations : births, marriages, and funerals. 

In addition to the service of the Word in which the 
Granth is read aloud, the Sikhs, like Protestant Christians, 
have two sacraments — a kind of baptism and a kind of 
Eucharist. The " P&httl of the true religion " is the 
initiation rite (founded by Govind Singh) by which the 
young Sikh, as he enters manhood, is received into the 
fatfU$£ t the " pure " community. After the candidates 
have bathed in the sacred tank at Amritsar a mixture 
of water, sugar, and sweetmeats, which has been stirred 
up with a dagger > is poured over them from the head 
downwards over the whole body while these words are 
pronounced {yah guru-j! M kMha, siri vah guru-jt ktfiue), 
" Hail to the pure community of the Guru 1 Victory 
to the sacred Guru 1 " The most solemn part of the 
gatherings for worship is the preparation and distribution 
of the Kardfi-prasdd. A cake which has been made with 
butter, flour, and sugar is consecrated to the Guru, and 
then with the cry, " Faft Gam ! " it is distributed to 
the faithful. 

The private religious duties of the Sikh are the ritual 
bath (twice daily) and the reading of the Granth. For 
his morning prayer he has to repeat the japjl of Nanak. 
and the Japji of Govind Singh ; a& his evening prayer 
the So-darn, which is also in the Granth, The Sikh 
regards his moral and ethical duties as binding as his 
religious ones. The Sikh religion has a strong ethical 
tendency. Loyalty and uprightness, humility and 
obedience, generosity and hospitality, readiness to forgive 
and willingness to bear injustice patiently — all this is 
part of the life-ideal of a religious Sikh, Special emphasis 

34 



U laid 






ANCESTRAL FAITH OF SUNDAR SINGH 

aid upon the domestic virtues of family life, upon 
Conjugal fidelity, the care of parents for their children, 
jn.l on filial love and piety. It is this close union of 
religious inwardness and ethical earnestness which raises 
tin- Sikh religion above so many of the sects and groups 
mill in Hinduism and gives to it an air of nobility. In 
the daily morning prayer, the greatness and purity of 
ligious ideal of the devout Sikh can be seen very 
dearly : 

Moke contentment and modesty thine car-ring^ jclf-rcspect thy 

-.dilation [he ashes to smear on thy body; mate thy body, 

only a morsel for death, thy beggar's coat, and faith thy rule 

! thy 5-taF. 

Make association with men thine Ax Pun/A (a sect of Yogis), and the 

I conquest of thy heart the conquest of the world. 

Hail ! Hail ro Him ; the prima], the pure, without beginnihf, the 
Indestructible, the aamc in every age ! 

Make divine knowledge thy food, compassion ihy storekeeper, and 

rli v. ..j,_-l- which is in every heart (conscience) the pipe (to call to repast). 

Make Him who hath strung the whole world (on His wring) thy 

' j'uii j.j[ Lord ; let wealth and supernatural power be relishes for others. 

Union and separation is the law which regulatcth the world. By 

de»imy We Ictcivc out portion. 

Hail ! Hail to Him : the primai, the pure, the indestructible, the 
lame in every age ! " * 

Sundar Singh's ancestral faith is a pure and elevated 
religion, a religion in which the best of Hinduism and the 
best of Islam unite, a religion which can point to its saints 
and its martyrs. Many elements of the Sikh religion^ 
like belief in the forgiving Love of God and His revela- 
tion of Himself iri a human being, come very near to 
the central truths of Christianity ; though these glimpses 
of revelation are indeed blurred by the strong influence 
of Vedantic Pantheism and Islamic fatalism. Above all, 
*hc element which robs the teaching of the Granth of 
any vital creative power is its eclecticism, its continual 

M. A. Maraulifte, The Sihh Religion, vol, i, pp. iii-213. 

35 



SADKU SUNDAR SINGH 

oscillation between Theism and Pantheism, personal ism 
and impersonalism, belief in forgiveness, and longing 
for Nirvana. In this mixed religion a soul like that of 
Sund.ir Singh,, which longed intensely for a final unity 
and for deep satisfaction, could not find a home. But in 
spire of all its deficiencies and weaknesses, it was still 
rich enough and pure enough to become to this seeking 

soul a irat&ayui-yas cfc Xptfrrav. 




Part II 

THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

i. Youth. Enner Conflicts* 



SUNDAR SINGH comes of an ancient, aristo- 
cratic, and wealthy Sikh family. (4) He was born 
on the Jrd of September 1:889, ' n the village of 
Kiimpur in the State of Patiala, where his father, Sirdar 
Slier Singh, was a landed proprietor and lord of the 
manor. His home was not only full of material comfort, 
but of true piety. Sundar's mother, a cultivated and 
religious woman, wakened early in her son, who was 
bound to her by the ties of closest affection, the sense 
of the Divine and the Eternal. His saying, " [ believe 
that every truly religious man had a religious mother," 
is exemplified in his own case. His mother always 
took him with her when she went to the temple to take 
an offering, or when she made her fortnightly visit to 
the purokita (priest) in the jungle in order to receive 
spiritual counsel and encouragement. She instructed 
n in the sacred writings of the Sikh religion as 
well as of Hinduism. She trained him in daily devo- 
tional habits. When he woke up in the morning and 
asked for milk, she would say : "No, first you must 
have spiritual food," Although he was sometimes 
rather unwilling for it, he had to read portions from 
the Vedas and the Sastr;;s, the Granth and the Bhaga- 
vadgita, before he had his milk. At seven years old 
he knew the whole of the Bhagavadgtta by heart — not 
an unusual feat, however, for an Indian boy. It was 
his mother, too, who first instilled into him the ideal 

" From SuihJjt Siii»Vs on) account. 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

of the dedicated life. " You must not be superficial 
and worldly like your brothers," she used to say to 
him. " You must seek peace of soul and love religion, 
and one day you will become a holy Sadhu." These 
words of his mother's re-echoed in the depths of the 
boy's soul ; the impressions which he received from 
die peaceful simple life and bearing of the Sannyasi 
whom his mother visited for counsel strengthened these 
feelings and aroused in his young mind the desire to 
become like these men. His whole inner life became 
a great longing for "ithiii (peace of soul). And when 
at last he found it, he fulfilled his mother's desires, 
and adopted the life of a Sadhu as his vocation. Thus 
his first impulse to the vita religicsa came from his 
mother. He himself repeatedly declares that the words, 
example^ and prayers of his mother were of decisive 
significance for his future development, 

"The child at its mother's breast is like the clay In the hands of (lie 
potter. She can do anything with the child if she is a pr.ij-ing mother* 
if her spirit remains in contact with thespirit of the greatest of all teachers." 
** My mother brDUglvt me up in a religious atmosphere; site prcp-ircd 
nrn for the work of God, She did not know how I would turn out; 
according to the light of Hinduism she did her best. . . . She would 
have become a Christian if she had lived longer. Whenever I think 
about her 1 thank God for such a mother. She had a wonderful amount 
of light. I have seen many Christian women, out non« of them came 
up to my mother." 

At the early age of fourteen Sundar Singh lost his 
mother, at the time when his religious conflicts had 
already begun. Deep sorrow filled his heart, a sorrow 
which has left its mark upon him to this day. " Even 
to-day a look of pain comes into the SSdhu's face and 
his eyes grow dim when the conversation turns upon 
the subject of his mother." With increased real he 
now threw himself into the study of the sacred books. 
He often sat up till midnight reading the Granth, the 

38 




] 



THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 
Upanishads, and the KorAn. He learnt by heart a 
many passages. His Guru (religious teacher) 
Hid to Sundar's father : " Your son will become either 
1 fool or a great man." The father remonstrated with 
the ovtr-eager lad : "You will turn your brain, my 
ion, and ruin your eyesight 1 You are still a child. 
Why do you torment yourself so sorely over religious 
questions ? " Sundar Singh answered : " I must have 
peace at all costs. The things of this world can never 
satisfy me." Besides this strenuous study, he used to 
practise concentrated meditation for hours at a time ; 
but even this effort brought him no inward peace. 
I 1 the guidance of a Hindu SannySsi he learnt 

the practice of Yoga, By means of prolonged con- 
centration he succeeded in producing a trance-state which 
brought him temporary relief ; but when he returned 
to normal consciousness he found that he was exactly 
where he was before the Yoga exercises began. The 
counsels and instructions which he received from Indian 
purohitti and sSdhus were powerless to give him any 
help along the path towards peace of heart. Neither 
was the most faithful and earnest attendance at cere- 
monies and rites any inward help, 

'' I tried*" he confesses, " to find rest through lite means offered by 
the religions of India; Hinduism, Buddhism, MohamjEedafiisiti; but I 
could fiat find it iherc." " I wanted to save myself. How ] studied 
oil our fcjercd boats ! How I strove for peace ind rtst 0/ soul I I 
did good works j I did all tktt could lead to peace, but I did not find 
it, for I could not achieve it for myself." 

The peace for which Sundar Singh longed so pas- 
sionately did not come from his ancestral faith, but 
from afar. In the mission school of his native plactj 
which had been founded in the seventies of the previous 
century by the American Presbyterian missionary, 
Dr. Wherry, he learnt to know the New Testament, 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

which was read daily in the school as a " textbook." 
At- first he refused to have anything to do with it. He 
was most indignant, "Why should we read the 
Bible ? We arc Sikhs, and the Granth is our sacred 
book." "There may possibly be good things in this 
book, but it is against our religion. " Others, too, 
warned him against the Bible. " Don't read the Bible," 
they said, " for there is a secret power in it which will 
turn you into a Christian." 

Sundar's hatred of Christianity grew so strong that 
he became the avowed leader of a group of pupils who 
declared themselves the "enemies of Christianity," 
Again and again he tore up and burnt portions of the 
Bible- y,nd of other Christian writings. When he saw 
the missionaries coming to preach the Gospel, he would 
cry aloud ; " These people are evil-doers ; they have 
come to spoil everything." He even went so far as to 
throw stones and dung at them, and he ordered his 
father's servants to do the same. At one time he 
cherished the idea of writing a pamphlet against Christ- 
ianity. But in spite of this fanatical hatred the 
mysterious book of the Christians would not leave him 
alone. " Even then," he confessed, " I felt the Divine 
attractiveness and wonderful power of the Bible. As, 
sometimes, in the midst of sweltering heat a fresh 
breeze springs up from the sea and cools the atmosphere, 
so I felt its refreshing effects upon my soul." Above 
all, it was a word of Jesus which had begun to speak 
to the depths of his restless, longing soul : " Come 
unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I 
will give you rest .. . . and ye shall find rest unto your 
Souls." Sundar could not believe it, and he cried out : 
" What I our religion, Hinduism, the most beautiful 
religion in the world, does not give me peace I How, 
then, can any other religion give it to me?" Yet 

40 



■ 



THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 






another word of Christ pierced his soul .* "God so loved 
the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that 
whosoever believcth in HI in should not perish, but have 
everlasting life." These two sayings would not let him 
go, they penetrated his soul ever more deeply ; but he 
could not grasp their comforting meaning. " Christ 
could not save Himself, how then can He save others ? " 
In order to be able to confute these mysterious words 
he made a deeper study than ever of the religious 
writings of his own land. He compared them with the 
New Testament, but he could find no one who could 
say as Jesus did, H I will give you rest," still less anyone 
who could say, " I will give you Bfe." The conflict 
between Christianity and Hinduism which raged in his 
soul led him at last to an outbreak of anger, and he 
burnt the Bible, that mysterious book which promised 
peace and brought with it nothing but restlessness and 
Conflict, His hither inquired with quiet disapproval : 
" Why do you do such a mad thing ? " Sundar Singh 
replied : ,L The religion of the West is false ; we must 
a nnihilate it." That day — it was the 1 6th of December, 
1 904 — the Sadhu can never forget ; it was the did ater 
of his life. The deep sense of painful remorse which 
the Sadhu feels on account of this attack on the Bible 
vibrates in his soul to this day, and is expressed over 
and over again in his sermons and personal confessions. 
" The remembrance that I have persecuted Christ and 
torn up the Bible is like a perpetual thorn in my 
memory." 

2. Conversion 
(a) Sunder Singh's Qtun Accsunt (5) 

At last Sundar Singh's inward restlessness and 
unhappiness came to a head. Nothing could give him 

4* 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the iJ/tti he so much desired. So he made the despair- 
ing resolve to commit suicide, in the hope that he would 
find rest in the other world. "If I cannot find God 
ia this world, perhaps I can find Him in the other." 
In the early evening of the 17th of December he went 
to his father and said to him : " I must say good-bye 
to you, for early to-morrow morning you will find me 
dead." "Why do you want to kill yourself?" said 
his father. " Because Hinduism cannot satisfy my soul, 
nor all this money, nor comfort, nor any of the good 
things of this world. Your money can satisfy the 
desires of my body but not those of my sou!. I have 
done with this wretched incomplete life; I am going 
to finish it ! " The youth intended to lie down on 
the railway line and allow himself to be run over by 
the five o'clock express when it passed the house next 
morning. 

Early in the morning of the 18th of December, at 
three o'clock, he rose and took a ceremonial cold bath, 
according to Hindu custom and the express command 
of Govind Singh. Then he began to plead with God 
to show him the way of salvation. As his soul was 
full of doubts, he prayed at first " like an atheist " : 
" O God— if there be a God — show rne the right way, 
and I will become a Sadhu ; otherwise I will kill 
myself." Then he said to himself: " If nothing is 
revealed to me, if I still can understand nothings then 
I will kill myself in order to find God in the other 
world," He prayed and prayed without stopping ; 
he besought God earnestly to deliver him from this 
uncertainty and unrest, and to give him peace ; but 
there was no answer. He would not be discouraged, 
however, and continued to strive with God in prayer in 
the hope of finding peace. 

Suddenly — towards half-past four— a great light shone 







THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

in his little room. He thought the house was on fire, 
opened the door and looked out ; there was no fire 
there. He closed the door and went on praying. 
Then there dawned upon him a wonderful vision r in 
the centre of a luminous cloud he saw the face of a 
Man, radiant with love. At first he thought it was 
Buddha or Krishna, or some other divinity, and he was 
about to prostrate himself in worship. Just then,, to 
his great astonishment, he heard these words in Hindu- 
stani : Tu mujke kyun samta km ? Dekh main ne tere 
liys iipui jan salib par di (" Why do you persecute 
Me ? Remember that I gave My life for you upon 
the Cross"), Utterly at a loss, he was speechless with 
astonishment. Then he noticed the scars of Jesus of 
Nazareth, whom until that moment he had regarded 
merely as a great man who had lived and died long 
ago in Palestine, the same Jesus whom he had so 
passionately hated a few days before. And this Jesus 
showed no traces of anger in His face, although Sundar 
had burnt His holy Book, but He was ail gentleness 
and love. Then the thought Came to him : "Jesus 
Christ is not dead ; He is alive, and this is He Himself " j 
and he fell at His feet and worshipped Him. In an 
instant he felt that his whole being was completely 
changed ; Christ flooded his nature with Divine iife ; 
peace and joy filled his soul, and M brought heaven into 
his heart." When Sundar Singh rose from his knees 
Christ had disappeared, but the wonderful peace remained 
from that moment, and it has never left him since. He 
Mid afterwards : " Neither in Hindustani, my mother- 
tongue, nor in English, can I describe the bliss of that 
hour." 

Full of joy, he roused his father, exclaiming: "I 
UQ a Christian 1 " " You are oft" your head, my boy," 
said the bewildered man \ " go away and sleep ! The 

43 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

day before yesterday you burnt the Bible, BOd QOW ttU 

of a sudden you say that you are a Christian J How 
can you explain such behaviour?" Sundar replied : 
"Because I have seen Him, Until now I always said, 
1 He is simply a man who lived two thousand years 
ago.' But to-day I have seen Him Himself,, the living 
Christ, and I intend to serve Him, for 1 have felt His 
power. He has given me the peace which no one 
else could give. Therefore I know that He is the 
living Christ. I will, and I must, SMVC Him." Then 
his father said : " But just now you were going to 
kill yourself?" The hoy answered: " 1 have killed 
myself: the old Sundar Singh is dead \ I am a new 
being. 1 ' 

This Vision of Christ was the turning-point of the 
S&dhu's whole life. It brought him the fulfilment of 
his piiHsinn-jh.-" longing and anguished Striving : i,hai y 
that wonderful peace, *' the peace which passes all 
understanding/' "heaven upon earth." "After 1 had 
wearied myself out in searching through Hinduism, at 
last I found in Christ the rest and peace which my 
soul desired." Sundar Singh regards his conversion 
as a direct revelation, a " miracle " in the strict sense 
of the word, something absolutely supernatural. Like 
every true convert, Sundar Singh rejects all naturalistic 
explanations of this experience, and defends it most 
decidedly as a purely " supernatural " work of grace. 

" What I raw was no imagination of my own. Up to that moment 
1 haled jessis Christ and did not worship Him, if I were miking of 
Buddha I might have Imagined it, for I -was in the habit of worshipping 
him. It was no dream. When you have just had a cold bath you 
don't dream ! It was a reality, the Living Christ I Ht (an turn an 
enemy of Christ into a preacher of the Gospel. He Im given mc His 
peace, not for a few hours merely, but throughout siiteen year-, — I 
pence so wonderful I kit I cannot describe it, but t can testify to 
in reality*" 

4+ 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

" That which other religions, could not do for many years Jesus did 
■ seconds. He- filled my heart with, infinite peace." 

* Neither reading mor boots brought about the change — no, it h Christ 
Himself who has changed me." " When He revealed Himself to die 
1 saw His plory, and I knew that He was the Living Christ." 

(b) Critical Considerati&m 

Sundar Singh sees in his conversion a manifestation 
of the transcendental God, a revelation of the Living 
Christ. Indeed, he emphasises the objectivity of his 
experience of Christ to such an extent that he separates 
tins vision from others which have been granted to 
him during ecstasy (as, for instance, during his fast). 
To Professor Hadorn of Berne he said clearly : " I 
have had visions, and I know how to distinguish them, 
but Jesus 1 have only seen once." For him, as for 
the apostles, the Risen Christ is an objective, concrete 
reality. 

In contradistinction to this realistic and religious 
explanation of the miracle of conversion, modern 
religious science suggests one that is natural and 
psychological. The psychological process which those 
who have studied conversion experiences have dis* 
covered is easily discernible in the Sadhu's experience : 
the utmost tension of effort, followed by a state of 
despair and complete cessation from struggle, cul- 
minating in a sudden inflow of assurance. The " local 
colour " on the phantasy side of the experience is easily 
explained by the influence of the story of Paul's con- 
version, whi ch is obviously very similar. Although 
the Sadhu does not remember having heard of Paul's 
vision of Christ on the road to Damascus, this still 
Ketns probable, as the New Testament was read daily 
id the mission school. It seems quite likely that 
Sundar Singh's inward struggles and their solution 
were inevitably coloured by the Pauline experience. 

45 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Finally, wc have to remember that such experiences of 
conversion arc not at all rare in India. 

A leading figure in the Indian Methodist Church, 
Theophilus Subrahmanyam, was also led to Christ, and 
to work for Him among the outcasts, by a wonderful 
vision. The famous Mahratta evangelist and poet, 
Nftrayan Vaman Tilak, had a vision of Christ in August 
[917,11 few months before his death. (6) Sundar Singh's 
teacher, the Presbyterian missionary, Mr. Fife, calls 
attention to the striking experiences of conversion which 
occurred in a spiritual awakening in the Khasi Hills 
in Assam. The Indian mind is much more prone to 
visionary experience than the European. 

Of the actual reality of Sundar Singh's wonderful 
conversion there can be no shadow of doubt. It n 
quite impossible that the Sadhu could have invented 
the story later. Mr. Redman, who examined him most 
carefully nine months after this event, in order to find 
out whether he was ready for baptism, then heard about 
his conversion by a vision of Christ. The fact that 
Sundar Singh only speaks of this most sacred experience 
in his public addresses, and docs not talk about it in 
ordinary conversation, is only another proof of his 
sincerity. To point out that this conversion resembles 
the conversion of St. Paul, to say that the whole experience 
conforms to a certain type and that similar experiences 
often occur among Indian Christians, does not offer any 
clear and complete explanation ; it only makes it 
somewhat easier to understand. Psychology is merely 
able to trace the course followed by these experiences 
(both in the conscious and unconscious life of the soul), 
but it cannot account for their real significance. The 
religious intuition of the convert alone is able to perceive 
the Divine reality and the working of Divine grace 
behind all the historical and psychological processes 

46 



Th 

through 



THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 
rough which it is revealed. This reality may indeed 
make use of accidental outward historical influences 
which govern mental life and growth, but it is itself 
lli.it " wholly other " which lies far beyond all the laws 
of psychology and breaks through them in the act of 
revelation. 

For Sundar Singh, as for all others whose conversion 
il of this type, the content of the revelation is the wonder 
of Divine Judgment and of Divine Grace. The judgment 
convinces man of his entire inability to achieve his own 
salvation ; grace gives him the assurance of salvation 
apart from his own efforts. This fundamentally Christ- 
ian experience of the uselessness of human effort, and 
of the sole reality of the working of the Grace of God 
through His revelation of Himself in the death of 
Christ on the Cross — this is the heart of Sundar Singh's 
"experience of conversion," "When Christ revealed 
Himself to mc, then I saw that I was a sinner and that 
He is my Saviour." Sundar Singh therefore belongs 
to the same category as Paul and Luther, and every 
Christian soul to whom the question of sin and grace 
is the central problem of life. The difference is simply 
this : that Paul came to realise his own sinfulness and 
helplessness in the light of the Jewish Torah, Luther 
in the light of the Rule of Monasticisni, while 
Sundar Singh came to this conviction through the 
Bhagavadgitl, by the philosophical and mystical path of 
Hinduism. 

" Hinduism had uught me that there was a heaven ; I did my best 
W free myself from sin, and in all things to act in accordance with the 
Will of God. I tried to save myself by my own good works, which 
Here 'juitt useless, and could not SaVc me. 1 was proud of Indian religion 
and philosophy [but philosophy cannot save sinners. In despair ] besought 
trod 10 show me the way of salvation, in answer to my prayer I 
saw my Saviour ; He showed me what I really was in myself. I had 
never cipecled to see anything of this sort." 



SADHC SUNDAR SINGH 

This essentially Pauline experience of grace is the 
content of Sundar Singh's conversion ; the corteras] 
funn which embodied this inward experience is the 
Vision of Christ. Sundar Singh admits, however, that 
this external form is not essential ; that, in other words, 
the Christian experience of the grace of God can be 
just as real apart from all miraculous accompaniments, 
and is, in fact, usually imparted in this way, When he 
speaks of his own conversion he usually adds the words 
of our Lord : ** Blessed are they who have not seen, 
and yet have believed " ; he places himself humbly 
beneath those Christians who have experienced the 
secret of the Living Christ and the wonder of His 
saving grace without any marvellous visions ; for that 
very reason, therefore, he considers Luther, who had 
no vision of Christ, to be greater than he. But he 
is convinced that in the difficult circumstances of his 
life he would never have found the way of salvation 
without this extraordinary revelation of Christ, and 
therefore that in his case God used unusual means to 
effect his conversion. This irregular visionary form of 
the Christian experience of grace becomes psycho- 
logically more comprehensible when wc realise the 
way in which Sundar Singh views the contact of man 
with the supernatural world- 

"Tic brain i* a v«y delicate and seniitJVc T&ol, fined wilh many 
fine faculties which, in meditation, tan revive messages from the unseen 
world, and thoughts which go far beyond normal Jiumam ecrasciausncKi. 
The brain does noi work up these thoughts! they come to it from the 
spiritual! world, and the mind translates them into a language which is 
suitable for human circumstances and situations. Many people receive 
such messages in dreams, others in visions, and others in waking hours 
during meditation." 

Sundar Singh would doubtless hesitate to apply this 
statement to his own experience of conversion, which 
48 



THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

In rightly considers the turning-point in his life, of far 
peater value than all the rest of his ecstatic and visionary 
experience. When a Swiss missionary secretary asked 
him whether his conversion was caused by an, objective 
appearance of Christ or a subjective vision, he answered 
fiitii quite decidedly : " No vision, no vision ; appear- 
WCe ! appearance !" But these reflections help those 
of us who are mere spectators to arrive at a sane, true, 
and " all-round " view of this remarkable event. The 
Image of "wireless telegraphy" is a beautiful symbol 
bol h "I tlit reality of Divine revelation and the experience 
(rf grace, and also of its entirely spiritual and incom- 
prehensible character* As the ether waves which 
ill wireless messages are invisible, so also the 
soul's contact with transcendental reality lies far beyond 
nil human knowledge. And just as these wave move- 
ments have to be picked up by the receiver in order to 
In- perceived by the human ear, so the spiritual revelation 
of Cod must be made perceptible to the human spirit 
in some tangible way if it is to be grasped at all. This 
perception usually takes place through original or 
stereotyped imaginative conceptions ; sometimes, how- 
it is mediated through pictorial visions of great 
1 i ■ lit and intensity. We must not discount these 
visions as hallucinations, for they are not compensatory 
phantasies, but merely the expression of some supra- 
niiLii il experience. Sundar Singh's conversion is like 
thi < xperience of all truly religious men and women 
in this — it is a revelation ef Divine reality, a miracle of 
Divine grace. But the miracle does not lie in the 
•Sternal vision of Christ, but above it and behind it. 
The outward form is only the necessary expression* — in 
1 way which the senses can grasp— of direct spiritual 

tact with Divine Reality mediated by the "Living 

Christ." 

d 49 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

3. Trial and Persecution 

After Sundar Singh had so wonderfully found his 
Saviour, he spent several days in solitary prayer. More 
and more his conscience was burdened with shame as 
he thought of the way in which he had desecrated the 
Bible three days before his conversion. In fervent 
pfliyer he besought God for forgiveness : " My God, 
forgive me. I was spiritually blind ; I could not 
understand Thy Word ; that is why 1 burnt the Bible." 
Then he received from the Lord this comforting assur- 
ance : " Thou wast spiritually blind,, but now I have 
opened thine eyes. Go forth and witness of Me." 
" Bear witness to this great thing that has happened 
to thee ; confess openly that I am Thy Deliverer ! " 
As in the case of the Apostle of the Gentiles, con- 
version and vocation to preach the Gospel followed 
dose upon each other. 

The first witness given by the fifteen-year-old lad to 
his Saviour was his steadfast courage in confessing 
Christ to his family and among his friends. His father 
appealed to him to give up his new faith, adjuring him 
by his Sikh pride of birth, by the honour of his family, 
and by his devotion to his mother — hut all in vain. 
When it was obvious that his father could not shake 
his determination, an uncle who was in a high position 
tried to force him to remain true to the Sikh religion. 
But the youthful Christian disciple stood firm ; his 
faith in Christ was more to him than all the treasures 
of this world. In addition to painful scenes and argu- 
ment? with his own family, he had to endure scorn, 
mockery, and persecution. His former companions 
reproached him as a perjurer, renegade, and deceiver ; 
his own brother persecuted him with bitter hatred ; 

So 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 



the whole population rose up against him in indignation. 
The teacher of the school, Mr. Newton, was accused 
before the local authority of bringing pressure to bear 
upon the pupils to accept Christianity. But Sundar 
Singh ami his friend Gurdit Singh, who became a 
i bristian at the same time, testified to the teacher's 
innocence before the magistrate, thereby increasing the 
ill-will of the people of the place against them, and 
Ril] more against all the Christians of the village. 
Many of these Christians had to leave the district. 
Kinally, on account of the threatening attitude of the 
population, the mission station had to be closed. Sundar 
Singh knew that his life was in actual danger, and he 
lought refuge at the Presbyterian mission school at 
Ludhiana, which was under the guidance of Dr. Wherry, 
Here he had his first painful experiences among Chris- 
tians * his fellow-pupils were mostly nominal Christians 
who did not live according to the teaching of Christ. 
Disappointed, he left the mission school and returned 
to his own family. But his faith in the Redeemer was 
not shattered . Very soon his family saw that his 
return to them was no return to the faith of his fathers. 
When they saw that he was not to be turned away 
from the Christian religion, they tried to persuade him 
to keep it secret. Sundar Singh was tempted to accede 
to their request ; he even thought of going to some 
distant place to be baptised and then of returning to 
his own family. The thought of complete separation 
from all his possessions, his home, and his relations 
seemed insupportable. But a voice said to him : " He 
who confesses Me before men will 1 confess before 
the face of My Father in Heaven." And he overcame 
the temptation and said to himself : *' 1 am willing to 
suffer anything for my Lord, but I cannot deny Him." 
When all the remonstrances of his family were fruitless. 



JAMES WHITE UBRARV 
WS UNIVERSITY 
KMUEN anuNBa, mh.hioa» 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

they took him before the Maharaja. The latter impressed 
upon him the disgrace he was bringing on himself and 
his family by his confession of Christ. " Shcr Singha 
(Lion- heart), how is it that you have turned into a 
coward ? " Then he offered him a post of high honour 
if he would remain true to the faith of his fathers. But 
Sundar Singh refused to be led astray by such con- 
siderations ; he confessed Christ fearlessly before them 
alL Soon afterwards he made a complete break with 
the Sikh community by cutting ofFhis. long hair. From 
this time forward his family treated him as an outcast. 
He had to sleep and cat outside the hnu^e like a leper. 
At length his father disinherited him and drove him 
away from home. Taking nothing with him save 
his New Testament and a little parcel of provisions, 
the sixteen-year-old Sundar Singh began to tread the 
■pravrajya, the " Way of Homelessness," which all the 
grc.it religious men of India have trodden since the days 
of Mahavira Vardhaman?. Jina and Gautama Siddhartha 
Buddha. The first night — he tells us— he spent shiver- 
ing under a tree, for it was cold- There he sat, enduring 
hunger and thirst and cold, his New Testament in his 
hands. Then Satan whispered in his ear : " At home 
everything was pleasant and comfortable, and now you 
are suffering." Then he began to compare his life in 
his parents' home with his present "homelessness" : 
in the midst of the comfort and luxury of his home he 
was restless and unhappy, while now, in the midst or a 
cold night, alone in the open air under a tree, his soul 
was flooded with wonderful peace. 

The Stdhu Jays; "That was my first TUght in Heaven. The world 
could not gjva me such peace. Christ, the Living Lord, breathed AW 
me a glorious peace. The cold pierced me through and through, [ 
was a hungry outcast, but t had the sense of twirij; enfolded in ihe power 
of the Lirmg ChrkrJ" " The presence of my Redeemer turned lurFenug 
into joy " 
51 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

In his desolate condition Sundar Singh besought 
God to guide him on his way. In answer to his prayer 
he received the command to go to the Christians at 
Rupar, many of whom had fled thither from his native 
place. He had scarcely reached the house of the 
resident Presbyterian missionary, Mr. Uppal, when he 
broke down completely. The poison which one of his 
relations had mixed with a sweet dish at his last meal 
at home had begun to work. (Already his friend 
Gurdit Singh, who had helped him to defend the 
teacher before the magistrate, had been poisoned by 
his father, and had died from the effects of the poison.) 
Mr. Uppal and his wife called in the chemist's assistant, 
who promptly gave Sundar the required treatment,, and 
stayed with him till late in the evening, finally leaving 
him with fittle hope of his recovery. When the 
chemist visited Sundar Singh next morning, to his great 
surprise he found that he had begun to get better. 

When Sundar Singh was sufficiently recovered, he 
returned to the Christian Boys* Boarding School at 
I-udhiana. Both the Presbyterian missionaries, Dr. 
Wherry and Dr. Fife, received him with such love and 
cared for him so tenderly that he says that they did more 
for him than his own parents could have done. Again 
and again his relations tried to take him away from 
the school. Once his father himself came and tried to 
persuade him to return home. But Sundar Singh 
stood firm ; he pointed out to his father that he 
li:id attained such a wonderful peace in Christ that 
lie would not exchange it for any earthly happiness 
whatsoever. 

In order to relieve Sundar Singh from the constant 
pressure of his relations,, and to save him from being 
attacked by the mob, the missionaries now sent him 
CO Subathg, a medical mission station near Simla. There 

S3 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

in quietness he studied the BibJe and prepared himself 
for baptism. According to Indian law, he could not 
go over to Christianity until he was sixteen, so he had 
to wait fiat his birthday. On account of the popular 
excitement, the Ludhiana missionaries did not consider 
it wise to baptise him there. Dr. Fife, therefore, who 
had now taken over the charge of the school, sent him 
with a letter of introduction to Mr. Redman > the senior 
missionary of the Church Missionary Society at Simla, 
and asked him t after careful examination of Sundar 
Singh, to baptise him. Sundar Singh went to Simla in 
the company of several other boys of his own age, and 
also with a free-lance missionary, Mr. Stokes, and handed 
his teacher's letter of introduction to Mr, Redman. The 
latter writes thus of this meeting : 

" I was deeply impressed by bis sincerity. ] examined him carefully, 
and asked Kim a great many questions about the chief facia of the Gospel. 
Ssndt] Singh replied to my entire Htft&ctktl] and he evinced even then 
sn extraordinary Knowledge of the Life and Teaching of Christ. Then, 
I inquired into his personal experience of Christ ai his Saviour. Again 
I was mure than JKtJsfied. And I told him 1 would be very glad to 
baptise Mm on the following day, which was a. Sunday, He replied 
that he desired to be baptised because; it ma &a irifl of" Christ, but that 
he felt so sure that the Lord kid railed him to witness for Him, that 
even if I could not see my way to baptise him, he would have to go out 
(Hid preach." 

On Sunday the 3rd of September, 1905, oft his 
sixteenth birthday, Sundar Singh was baptised in St. 
Thomas's Church at Simla by Mr. Redman, according 
to the rite of the Anglican Church. The opening words 
of the twenty-third Psalm, which formed part of the 
baptismal service, were at the same time a prophecy 
of the life of a wandering friar upon which the Sadhu 
was about to enter : " The Lord is my Shepherd ; I 
shall not want." 



54 



THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 



4. The Siduf'i Sphere of Activity 

(a) Aftusanary Journeys in the East 

In North India 

"Go forth and bear witness of Me" — this was the 
command which Sundar Singh had received from his 
Master after his conversion. Now he had to obey 
this call. But how was he, a lad of sixteen, to witness 
to the power and love of his Saviour ? Then there stole 
into his mind the words of his mother : " One day 
you will be a Sadhu." Would he not find a hearing 
for the Good News among his own countrymen if he 
came to them in that garment which since the days 
of the Vcd;is has been held sacred in India ? This 
garment has indeed become the "chief symbol of the 
ascetic life" throughout the whole of Asia, associated 
as it is with all the greatest religious men of India : 
with Mahivira, Va.rdhS.mana Jina, and Gautama 
Siddhartha Buddha, with his mendicant friars, Ghflitfl&yi 
ud Tulsi Diis — yes, and also with Guru Nanak, the 
founder of Sundar Singh's own previous form of 
religious belief. Could he not, he argued, in this 
robe (which more than two millions of Indians wear 
at the present time) (7) become an Indian to the Indians ? 
Would he not find a hearing if, in the homeless, poor,, 
and celibate life of a Sadhu, he fulfilled that religious 
ideal which for three thousand years has been proclaimed 
by the great religions of India ? Would he not find 
an "open door" if he came preaching the Gospel 
of Christ as ttirgrantha, a " breaker of fetters/' as 
saiitiyrfsi, "one who has renounced the world," as 
I'Jiikiu t a "mendicant friar," as sddku^ a '"religious 
pilgrim," as ja&ir, " one who has chosen poverty " ? 
Would he not be able to be " all things to all men " 

55 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

if he were to don the yellow robe of the ascetic — for 
this robe would give hini an entrance tD all castes ; yes, 
even to the women's quarters ? Thoughts such as 
these finally led Sundar Singh to resolve to become a 
Christian Sadhu, an evangelist in the garment of an 
Indian ascetic. 

Sundar Singh was not the first to don the yellow 
robe of the ascetic in order to become " an Indian 
to the Indians." Since time immemorial the priests 
of the secret Sannyasi Mission (s secret Christian 
Church claiming to have been founded in the days of 
the Apostle Thomas, the first missionary to India) 
have worn this garb, ID order to be able to preach the 
Gospel without let of hindrance, quietly and unobtru- 
sively, among their fellow-countrymen. Missionaries, 
too, who have worked openly have worn this dress in 
order to get nearer to the hearts of the Indian people. 
The famous Robert de Nobili, a nephew of Bellarmin, 
who began to work in Madura in 1605, followed the 
Strict rule of a Brahman Sannyasi, and thus was able to 
win several Brahmans to Christianity. Among the Christ- 
ian evangelists of more recent times who have adapted 
this method, perhaps the most outstanding is Bhavatii 
Charan Bancrji, a Bengali of Brahman descent (b. 18 61.), 
who was at Brat an enthusiastic champion of the prin- 
ciples of the Brahma-SamS^ then was baptised in the 
Anglican Church ; soon after, however, he joined the 
Church of Rome. In December 1894 he adopted the 
yellow robe, took the new name of Brahmabandhav 
Ufadhyaya (Theophilus, the Under-Shephcrd) and chose 
the life of a Bhikhu Sannyasi. He cherished the great 
idea of founding a matha (monaster)) of Catholic Hindu 
SannySsis (including both enclosed tontemplatives and 
wandering friars). " We ought not to rest," he wrote, 
" until the religion of Christ is lived by Indian ascetics 

56 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

and preached by Indian monks, until the beauty of the 
Catholic faith is revealed in an Oriental setting." His 
far-reaching programme for this new order was warmly 
supported by Bishop Pel vat of Nagpur, but it was 
wrecked by the opposition of ArchbUhop Dalhoff, SJ,, 
of Bombay, and of the Papal Legate Zalesky. Several 
of Ms followers still wear the yellow robe at the present 
time, and are carrying on the spirit of his work. To-day 
many Roman Catholic missionaries in India acknowledge 
the necessity of putting into practice the missionary 
policies of Nobili and Brahmabandhav, and of going 
forward with the idea of founding purely Indian 
monastic Orders. (8) 

We can scarcely believe that the youth Sundar Singh 
had heard of all these known and unknown Christian 
Sanny&is ; rather, he seems to have chosen the life of a 
Chrisrian Sadhu under the influence of memories of 
his childhood. His teacher, Dr. Wherry, advised him 
to attend the theological school at Saharampur in order 
to lay a thorough foundation for his calling as an 
evangelist. But Sundar Singh said frankly that he 
preferred the ideal of his own countrymen, and wished 
to preach the Gospel as a wandering SSdhu. With 
prophetic insight Dr. Wherry saw the significance of 
this step and gave him his blessing. So, thirty-three 
days after his baptism, the young Christian donned 
the sacred robe and made the vow to be a S&dhu his 
whole life long. (9) 

" I have vanned myself '° Him for my whole life, and with the help 
of His grace I will never break my vow." " On the day on which I 
became a Hiidiui I cliosc this robe as my J ife- companion, and as far as 
this depends upon me I will never give it up." 

So the sixteen-year-old lad went our to his missionary 
wanderings, barefooted, with no possessions, without 
any protection against wild beasts. Besides his thin 

57 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

linen garment and a blanket, which he often wound 
round his head as a turban, his only property was a 
New Testament in his mother tongue. He never 
begged ; he depended upon alma given by kind- 
hearted people ; if these were withheld, be hud to try 
to satisfy his hunger with roots and leaves, ]f kindly 
folk received him into their houses, he accepted the 
hospitality gratefully. If he found no shelter, then he 
would sleep in a dirty inn,, or even in a cave or under 
the trees. His Hindu fellow-countrymen often gladly 
gave htm food and shelter ; on the other hindj he 
generally met with great hostility among the Moham- 
medans as soon as they learnt that he was a Christian 
Sadhu. Sometimes he would be chased out of a house, 
followed by curses and insults, and he would have to 
take refuge in the jungle, where he would pass the 
night hungry and shivering. Even among Christian 
missionaries, like Brahmabandhav before him, Sundar 
Singh met with much suspicion ; many saw in the 
Sadhu-Iife a Hindu ideal of piety which could not be 
used for Christ, and they therefore criticised his mis- 
sionary method very severely. Sundar Singh was 
specially fond of going to shrines where pilgrims con- 
gregated, where he would meet large numbers of 
S&dhus and Sannyasis, to whom he eould preach the 
Gospel. He also went to the women (to whom it was 
impossible to preach in public), in order to speak of 
Christ to them. Dr. Wherry gives a vivid description 
of such a meeting for women : 

" The Hindu women heard of Jus coming and persuaded i Christian 
woman, whom the)' visited in her zenana, to invite them in her house, 
which was surrounded by a wall, and Jet the Sidliu speak to them. This 
Woman told die th.it su-ty or seventy women oi the best laniilien came 
and listened to Mm for an hour. They sat there with folded hands, 
and as they went awny they said : ' What he wy» is 'rue, and we believe 
every word -, Je&us Christ w the Redeemer.' " 

5S 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 



At first the S&dhu preached the Gospel in his native 
place and in the surrounding villages, then he wandered, 
preaching, through the Punjab to Afghanistan and 
Kashmir— lands in which Christian missions had scarcely 
begun any work at that time. After a long and 
fatiguing missionary tour he returned to Kotgarh, a 
little place near Simla in the Himalayas, in order to 
rest. There he joined the American missionary, Mr. 
Stokes (whom we have already mentioned), who belonged 
to a wealthy family and had come to India to preach 
the Gospel like a Franciscan friar, (10) Following the 
Sadhu's example, he also donned the yellow robe of the 
ascetic. He also told the SiLdhu a great deal about 
St. Francis of Assisi. The two agreed to untie their 
forces for the preaching of the Gospel, and they started 
out on a very difficult and trying journey through the 
Kangra Valley. On the way Sundar Singh, whose 
young body was not yet inured to so much hardship, 
fell ill in the jungle with a bad attack of fever. His 
companion dragged him to the house of a European, 
where he was tenderly nursed for a long time. In the 
year 1907 the two gave themselves to work in the 
leper asylum at Subathu, and to the care of the sick in 
the Plague Hospital at Lahore. Bay and night they 
devoted themselves to the sick, hardly allowing them- 
selves sufficient sleep, spending their nights on the 
bare ground between dying patients. When Mr. 
Stakes was obliged to return to America through illness* 
Sundar Singh went on with his mission work alone. 
From Lahore he went to Sind, and then returned by 
way of Rajputana. In tireless evangelistic work his 
own inner life became deeper and stronger. Mr. 
Redman, who met him at Sialkot, two years after his 
baptism, at a meeting, says ; " I was deeply impressed 
by the maturity of his Christian character, which was 

59 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

evident in his speech and behaviour. He seemed no 
longer a boy, but a young man, strong in faith, although 
lie was only nineteen years old." 

Sundar had a passionate longing to go to Palestine 
to see the place where his Lord had lived and suffered. 
When he reached Bombay, however, he had to give 
up the idea as impracticable. So he wandered through 
Central India to his native count!)', preaching as 
he went along. In the year 1909, acting on the 
advice of his Christian friends, he entered St. 
John's Divinity College at Lahore and began to 
study theology. At the College, at that time under the 
leadership of Canon Wood, he received instruction in 
the Bible and Prayer Book, elementary Church History, 
Apologetics, and Comparative Religion. Here, too, he 
learnt to know the Imitation of Christy which he read 
over and over again, and which made a deep impression 
upon his spiritual life. Otherwise the study of theology 
meant very little to his simple, direct piety. On the 
contrary, it seems as though it was this sojourn at the 
Divinity College which aroused in Sundar Singh that 
deep distaste for theological intellectualism which appears 
so continually in all his sermons and self-revelations. 
At Christmas 1909 he was promoted from the Begin- 
ners' Class to the Junior Catechists* Class ; in [910 
he left the seminary, having received a licence to preach 
in the Anglican churches of the diocese of Lahore. 

In the meantime his friend Stokes had returned from 
America, having received permission from the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury to found a Franciscan Brother- 
hood called The Brotherhood of the Imitation. The two 
members of the new community, Stokes and Western 
(now a Canon in Delhi), took the vows in the Cathedral 
at Lahore. Sundar Singh worked in close connection 
with the new Brotherhood, but he did not actually join 

60 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

It, as his individualistic tendency was not at home in 
the strict ccclcsiasticism of this truly Franciscan com- 
munity ; indeed, he could not manage to confine himself 
within the limits nf his Anglican preaching activity. 
Like John Wesley, he regarded the whole world as his 
parish, and preached everywhere and to all who would 
receive his message. Some ecclesiastically minded men 
were not pleased with this unlimited evangelisation, and 
explained to him that this method of work was " not 
desirable in a deacon, and that for an ordained man it 
would be quite impossible." He would only be allowed 
to preach in other dioceses with the permission of their 
respective bishops, and if he were ordained in the 
Anglican Church he would be forbidden to preach in 
other Christian churches. Sundar Singh considered 
that to be bound to one communion like this would 
narrow his Sadhu vocation. " He simply desired to 
be a Christian, united to the One Body of Christ." 

During a quler time of prayer, he attained the certainty 
that it was the Will of God that he should preach the 
Good News of Christ without holding the office of a 
priest and without the commission of any particular 
Church. He went to his bishop (Bishop Lefroy of 
Lahore, later the Anglican Primus in India}, who had 
been especially friendly to him during his student days* 
and asked him to take back his preacher's licence. The 
Bishop realised that the Sadhu had a true " prophetic 
vocation/" and he did as he was asked. Sundar Singh's 
wise friend, Dr. Wherry, also approved of this step. 
The renunciation of the preacher's licence did not, 
however, imply a break with the Anglican Church, to 
which the Sadhu belonged by baptism. He continued 
to preach in Anglican churches, especially in the Church 
of St. Thomas at Simla ; he also continued to be a 
regular communicant of the Church of England. His 

61 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

relations with his Anglican friends and well-wishers 
were as cordial as ever. Even at the present time the 
S&dhu considers himself, from the ecclesiastical point 
of view, a member of the Anglican Church. 

Freed from official and ecclesiastical tieSj Sundar 
Singh now went forward as a pure nirgrantha^ as a 
Christian Sadhu, to be all things to all men. When 
he was travelling through Eastern India, at Sarnath, 
where the Buddha had long ago begun his work, he 
came into touch for the first time with members of 
the Secret SannySsi Mission, of whom Dr. Wherry had 
already spoken to him some time before. These 
esoteric Christians, who consider themselves " Followers 
of the Asiatic Christ," are scattered over the whole of 
India, and are to be found in some of the neighbouring 
countries. In general they belong to the upper classes 
of society. According to some accounts they number 
several hundred thousand. One section of this com- 
munity has formed itself into a secret Christian Church, 
fully organised on the lines of the Syrian Church, 
founded by the Apostle Thomas, with which it con- 
siders itself united," These organised SannySsis fall into 
two groups : Svami (Lords, Rulers, Teachers) and Siiya 
(learners). The former, who arc believed to number 
about seven hundred, live the celibate ascetic life and 
wear the saffron robe ; they all bear the title of NandJ 
The members of this secret Church meet in "Houses 
of Prayer " very early in the morning. These meeting- 
houses look like Hindu temples from the outside, but 
within there is neither picture nor altar ; their worship 
is conducted in Sanskrit. At times, too, they celebrate 
the rites of Baptism and Holy Communion. Their 
motto is : Tint Nasrinfah kt jai £** Victory belongs to 
Jesus of Nazareth "). Again and again in times of per- 

1 SvAmi Thamia SanJ. » Sanskrit ! Auanda, EIcBsedneu. 

62 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

11 and difficulty the Sadhu has received help 
from these secret Sanny&sis, Repeatedly he has urged 
them to come out of their retirement and proclaim 
Christ openly. This is their answer : 

" Our Lord has called us to he fishers. When a fisherman jj at worfc 
1»- males no now j he sib quietly theire until his ner is full j for H tic 
Were (a make the slightest sound the fish would escape. That is why 
wn worfc in Stillness ; when tie nei is full the whole World will &ec what 
uv have Ixen doing." 

At the end of 19 12 Sundar Singh was asked to go 
and preach the Gospel to four thousand Sikh lumbermen 
Who had emigrated to Canada. He was ready to go, 
and it would have been a joy to him to do so ; but 
the plan fell through because the Canadian Government 
refused to grant him a passport. While his friend 
Canon Sandys was making great efforts, though all in 
vain, to persuade the Canadian Government to give him 
permission, Sundar Singh went out on another preaching 
tour. When he had been travelling for some weeks, 
he resolved to put into practice a long-cherished 
desire and to fast for forty days in the desert, (n) 
He believed that in this way he would become more 
deeply conformed to Christ inwardly, and that this 
would lead to greater Christlikeness of life. Perhaps 
he was also influenced to some extent by St. Francis 
of Assisi, who kept a strict fast every year during Lent. 
Possibly, too, he had heard of the action of his great 
predecessor, the Sannyasi Brahmabandh:w, who fasted 
during the whole of Lent in 1899 ' ln wder to prepare 
himself for the founding of his Sannyasi Order. Doubt- 
less, however, the Sadhu was also influenced, though 
quite unconsciously, by motives drawn from primitive 
Indian asceticism. Had not the Buddha fasted to the 
point of utter exhaustion in order to receive greater 
enlightenment ? In the old collection of Buddhist 

*3 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 
writings called the Suim-Nipam the writer makes the 
Buddha speak thus about his resolve to fast : 

" When my haAy is worn to u shadow 
Ever more cleail/ shines th* soul. 
Ever more alert becomes the spirit 
Steeped ill wisdom and" in coiilenplaiion. " 

In spite of strong advice to the Contrary from a 
Roman Catholic Sidhu named Smith, who travelled 
with him to North India, Sundar Singh carried out his 
resolve. On or about the 2Jth of January, 1913, he 
withdrew into the jungle between Hardwar and Dehra 
Dun, and, like Buddha long ago at Uruvela, he gave 
himself up to meditation and prayer. In order to keep 
some account of time, he placed near him a heap of 
forty stones, one of which he was to throw aside every 
day. His physical strength declined rapidly ; his 
sight and hearing became dim ; soon his body was 
so weakened that he was unable to throw away a stone 
each day. His spiritual life, on the contrary, became 
increasingly full of clearness and liberty ; in a state 
uf ecstatic concentration he lived entirely in the super- 
natural world. Though his bodily sight was so weak 
that he could no longer distinguish anything in the 
world about him, with his spiritual vision he thought 
he beheld Christ Crucified, with His wounded Hands 
and Feet, and His Countenance so full of love. While 
his body was helpless and without feeling his soul expe- 
rienced the deepest peace and the most wonderful 
happiness. 

At most he can only have been fasting for about 
ten or twelve days, when some wood-cutters found him 
at the beginning of February in the jungle and brought 
him to Rishi Kesh. Thence he was carried to Dehra 
Dun. At the railway station some Christian peasants 



TH£ LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

sw and recognised him, and they took him by bullock- 
art to the Christian village of Annfield, where he 
ken into the house of the Anglican pastor 
'h.ir.inijit. The pastor's adopted son, Bansi, and some 
n'llage Christians cared for htm most tenderly. 
''"In their care he made a rapid recovery, and in 
'1 inli he was able to set out again on a preaching 
lour. He went to Simla, where his friend Mr. Redman 
fore him the great risks of such a dangerous 
ncnt. The Sadhu, however, was convinced of 
the good results of his fast. As he has said often since 
then, he felt that the fist had renewed and strengthened 
1,1111 inwardly. Temptations, hindrances, and pcrplexi- 
i" , which had previously troubled him, had all dis- 
ippo-.ired. He was freed from the temptation to give 
up the calling of a Sadhu and return to his father's 
house. Up to that time, in periods of exhaustion, he 
would be tried with rebellious feelings — these were 
now swept away ; now, too, he was convinced that the 
soul was independent of the body, a matter about 
which he had been uncertain before. Above all, he 
tfiis now sure that that wonderful peace which he 
enjoyed was no merely subjective experience, the 
working of some secret vital force, but the objective 
result of the Divine Presence. (12) 

In Simla, too, Sundar Singh heard that the news of 
his death had been spread abroad widely. Before he 
began his fast, the Roman Catholic ascetic to whom he 
had confided his intention, and to whom, at his own 
request, he had given the addresses of his friends, had 
telegraphed the news of Sundar's death, evidently 
intending to mislead them. In consequence, a special 
memorial service was held at Simla, in which Mr. 
Redman and Brother Stokes took part ] the service 
was reported in Indian missionary papers and obituary 
a 65 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

notices nppcnred in many of them. The fact that the 
sender of the telegrams could not be discovered made 
- i I of the Sidhu's acquaintances suspect that he 
himself had sent off the telegrams \ all his intimate 
Brfcndl, however, arc convinced that this suspicion is 
entirely groundless. 

Tihtt and Ntpal 

From the early days of his missionary activity Sundar 
Singh had made the bold resolve to go to Tibet, that 
" dark, closed knd," as he calls it, to preach the Gospel 
in this stronghold of Buddhism. He knew neither 
the language nor the country not the people ; he only 
knew that the difficulties in the way of preaching the 
Gospel in this land were very great. But in his love to 
Christ, his zeal for the Gospel, and his readiness to 
lay down his life for Christ, he shrank from no danger 
or difficulty. 

Tibet is one of the most mysterious lands in the 
world ; a Tibetan saying describes it as the ll Great 
Ice Land." Its geographical remoteness from the 
surrounding countries and the strange beauty of its 
mountains render it a land of marvels, no less than 
the wealth of its great monasteries with their treasures 
of sacred writings and their grandiose form of worship. 

Tibet is the European form of ta-6$ed t fa, " Highlands of the Bhd 
people "\ still more usual is the term hkud-yul, " Land of the BAsd 
penpW The inhabitants of this mountain region who speak Tibetan 
call themselves iAtrd-pitr, " Bhd people " j this term is also used by 
Indians in speaking of the Tibc-ran inhabitants of lite mountains. Neither 
the mountaineers nor Indians, nuke any difference between those who 
live In the Lhasa region and! tile dwellers in Western Tibet, who are 
at present British subjects. In the year 1841 a large part 0/ Western 
Shod country, Ladakh, Spiti, Zangsfcar, Kunawar, was separated from 
the territory of lihod-yul and incorporated with British India. This 
district looks ciaetiy like the rest of Tibet, ia inhabited by a purely 
Tibetan population, and contains many b mass cries. These regions, 

66 




THE LIFR STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

I II ■ end ^nng'ikar, arc as wild and inhospitable as any paftl 

proper. It in not, therefore, necessary to call them Indian and 

■' Tibet" solely for the rest of Tibet. The only correct 

describe this country is to distinguish between Lfsser Ti&ti (i.e. 

1 'led regions under British control) and Greater Tibet (i.e. the 

bow capital is Lhasa). This ciuct terminology fits in with 

i'i 1 Mm.- tan use of the names { this alone clears away the misunder- 

1 roused by the inexact use of the names, even in connection 

■rjih Sundar Singh. 

I ii ; ailiu wu not the first Christian missionary to try to enter this 
mh" [ijiaHc 1 1 1 - . 1 with the Good News of Christ; (13) Christian Missions 
liivc indeed already a remarkable history behind them. Early 
■meenth century a Franciscan friar, Odoricu of Pordenone 
passed through Tibet on a missionary journey, In the seven- 
nHiry the Portuguese Jesuit, Fr. d'Andrada, began organised 
#ork in Tibet which met with a measure of success,, but at the 
"I -I twenty-five years it collapsed. At the beginning of the eighteenth 

■ niun ihe Capuchins took up the work afresh, but in 174; they also 
ltd i" leave the country. A hundred years later two La?arists, Hue 

■ nd Gmbet, tried to get a footing in Lhasa itself, but after two years they 

! to leave. 
lame year, 1846, by Papal authority, an Apostolic Vicariate 
Lilly established at Lhasa and the Tibet Mission was entrusted 
to the Mhih/ti Etrangires. In 1B47 the Chinese missionary Renou 

■ I .it unsuccessful attempt ; it was not until 1854 that he was able 
!■■ petU li the Tibetan frontier and found the mission station of BongA. 

Ml :L itrrfnpts of Catholic missionaries to enter Tibet fiom the side 

II were vain. In 1856 an Apostolic Vicar, Thomine-Dcsmazurcs, 
Mm ippointed r but this effort was also unsuccessful. After a transient 

progress at the beginning of the sixties, the mission station 
was destroyed in J 86,, the Christians were imprisoned, and all the 
ninionaries were driven out of Tibet. After that lime it was only 
possible to work on the eastern frontier in Chinese territory. But in 
1887 even these frontier stations, fell a prey to the power of the lamas, 
and could only be recommenced in 189;. In 1918 the Apostolic 
Vicariate of Tibet contained 3.7+4 Christians. 

Recently various Protestants have been working on the eastern frontier ; 
in Western or Lesser Tibet die Moravian missionaries have been carrying 
on heroic and sacrificial service at several centres since the middle of last 
century. In 1915, however, in consequence of insuperable difficulties, 
• 1 of Poo on the Sutlej, near the frontier of Greater Tibet, has 
had to be given up. The interior of Tibet has been closed to all 
missionary effort for many years, not only by order of the Tibetan, 
but of the British Government. The latter gave the Moravian mis- 
rrniision to found their mission only on condition that they 
would bmit their activity to the territory J which is under British rule. 

6 7 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Ji is (aid lfc*1 Indian Chn&lians. who have entered GreateT Tibet cither 
as traders or as ascetics have died is martyrs ; tills has been the fa« nl.se 
of natives who have- confessed Christ. Sundar Singh tells of a fellow- 
countryman of his own, named Kertar Singh, who, lite the Sadhu, had 
had CO leave his home on account of his faith in Christ, and who used 
to work, as a wandering preacher ol the Gospel. By command of the 
Lama of Tsinghafri he wm sewn into the skin of d yak and thus put to 
death in the man cruel manner. The difficulties of carrying on mis- 
sionary work in this remote dosed land are perhaps greater than in any 
other country in Asia, poSlibly greater than in any Other Jand in the world. 
Archbishop Renou (later Adviser to the Propaganda fidei), who knows, 
as few do, the indescribable difficulties of work in Tibet, wrote thus, 
siity years ago, in prophetic vein : 

" What immense difficulties the Gospel will have to overcome before 
it can take root in this land of Lamaisltl. Some quite tUsuaSOMlJ 
miracle will be needed in order to overturn this colossus of tded-wenbift, 
which js supported by every kind of diabolical device ! How can we 
ever cope with these swarms of btnua who arc mad with rage against 
everyone who does not belong to their form of worship ? Great saints 
will be needed in order to open the way into this ' land of superstition 
par txcilltnct' My soul faints within me when I Lhink of all the dirS» 
ciddea which have to be overcome, but the Divine power has no limits." 

It was this most difficult of all mission fields that 
the young Christian convert chose for his special sphere. 
Without any support or special preparation, trusting 
only in the grace of God, and ready to lay down his 
life for the Gospel, he set out for this apparently 
impossible work. In the spring of 1908 he tried to 
enter the " closed M region of Greater Tibet In the 
same route which had been trodden by the Franciscan 
missionary, Dcsgodins, fifty years earlier. When he 
reached the Moravian mission station at Poo he found 
a cordial welcome and readiness to help him in every 
possible way from the two missionaries there, Kunick 
and Marx, They helped him 10 acquire the rudiments 
of the Tibetan language, and lent him an evangelist, 
Tarnyed Ah, as a companion. The two young men 
tramped over the mountains till they reached the 
lamasery of Trashisgang, where they were welcomed 

6H 




THE LITE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 



indly. After that, Sundar Singh seems to have 
I ir. .1- red about alone for a while in the land of Shod \ 
whether he ever succeeded at that time in actually 
|i tting into Tibet Proper cannot be ascertained. Every 
vit the Sadhu went up to the Himalayas and tried to 
■ the border. It is not clear how often, or in which 
,' 11 he did manage to enter Greater Tibet; this 
mm. , rtainty is due to the fact that the Sadhu has never 
kept a diary, and also because the dates suggested by 
Wrious witnesses contradict each other. It seems dear, 
however, that in the year 1913 Sundar Singh, accom- 
panied by the above-mentioned evangelist,. Tarnyed Alt 
- reached the village nf Shipkyi, which is over 
the border* There he preached in his own language, 
in I All interpreted for him. Further, it is known for 
a fact that he has repeatedly gone to Tibet by way of 
Almora. Yunas Singh, an agent of the London Mis- 
■ionary Society, met him in 1 9 1 3 twice during his 
Tibetan journeys at Dewarahat, near Almora, and in 
[917 at Dangoli, In 1917, while he was returning 
from Tibet and Nepal, he stayed at a place called 
Pitharagarb (quite close to the frontiers of Tibet and 
Nepal) ; this fact ts vouched for by an Indian Christian 
worker belonging to the Methodist Mission. Miss 
Turner, of the London Missionary Society, also met 
him twice (in 1915 and 1917) in Dangoli, which lies 
north of Almora ; and she received a letter from him 
just before and just after he had crossed the border 
into the "closed" region of Tibet, She remembered 
also that he passed through Almora in 1912 on his 
way into Tibet. Again and again he was prevented 
from actually crossing the frontier into Greater Tibet. 
In 1914, for instance, he was stopped by the British 
Government Officer at Gangtok in Sikkhim, together 
with his. Tibetan companion, a man named Tharchin. 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

1,1 1, when hi- was making for Tibet by way of 

Poo, lu- was turned back at the frontier. In 19:3 the 
linli.sli authorities at Kotgarh prevented him from 
entering Tibet when his plan of going there was dis- 
red by the false rumour of his death, Thus it is 
U historical fact that Sundar Singh has made great 
efforts every year (when he was not travelling in other 
countries) to enter Greater Tibet, and that he has 
achieved his object several times. 

The Sldhu's reception in Tibet was by no means 
always a hostile one ; on the contrary, he often met 
with friendliness and kindness. The fact that his 
yellow Sadhu robe was like the garments of some of 
their lamas helped him to get a hearing for the Good 
News of the Gospel even in Tibet. In this inhospitable 
land, too, Sundar Singh found friends and helpers, like 
Wangdi and, above all, like Thapa, the young son of 
a Nepalese father and a Tibetan mother, who often 
served as his interpreter in Western Tibet. Both 
these youths were baptised by him. He encountered 
bitter hostility, it is true, particularly among the Tibetan 
lamas. He can tell stories of fierce persecution incurred 
by himself for the sake of his witness to Christ, as well 
as by other Christian evangelists and witnesses. He 
says that he was delivered several times over in a 
most wonderful manner from certain death. As these 
narratives are related by the SSdhu alone, and it has 
been impossible to reach Thapa, the only eyewitness, 
the critical historian must leave this matter in susjiitiso 
in the meantime. 

The most wonderful of these deliverances was the 
release from the well at Rasar. Whatever view we 
may take of this incident, and Df others of the same 
character, the fact remains that travel in the pathless 
and inhospitable wilderness of mountains which makes 




I III! LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

la mi of Bhod entails severe sacrifices and continual 

i' 1 1 t,. life itself. Sundar Singh is right when he 

ft : " When I go to Tibet I never expect to return. 

I 1 11 time 1 think it will be the last ; but it is the Will 

i I rod that 1 am preserved," 

due of the most remarkable tales which the Sadhu 

Is in connection with his travels in Tibet is that of 

Mahlrishi of Kailas." He says that he has met 

ilns "Id seer three times, and that he has received a 

lod deal of inspiration from him, both for his own 

tier life and for his preaching of the Gospel. Here 

the account Df their first meeting : 

Once when the Sadhu was crossing The Kaiifis Range in the Himalayas, 
cstrac upon the cave of an aged ascetic, in the midst of wonderful 
'n<rry, not far from the Late of Mancssarowar. He was used to 
.Imp; Indian Sannylsis and Tibetan monks hi these mountain regions, 
It now, to hi? surprise, he found that this was a Christian hermit who 
asked him to knee] down and pray with him, whose prayer closed with 
the Name of Jesus, and who then read aloud to him some verses from 
the Sermon on the Mount from an ancient manuscript. Then the 
•err told him a wonderful story. He said that he had been bom three 
hundred years before at Alexandria, of Moslem patents. At the age 
of tMstyhe had entered a Dervish Order, but neither prayer nor study 
of the Koran brought him any peace. In his inward distress he went 
to a Christian saint who had come from India to Alexandria in order To 
preach the Gospel. This saint was Yemaus (the Arabic torn! of 
Hieronymus), the nephew of St. Francis Xsvicr. This man read aloud 
to him these worda out of a little book ! " Come unto Mr, ail ye that 
labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you." u God so loved 
the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son." These words from 
the Bible led him to Christ. He left his monastery and was baptised, 
then he went out into the world as a wandering preacher, first of all with 
his teacher, and after that alone. After long years spent in missionary 
journeys he retired to die holy mountain of Kflilts to give himself up 
to meditation, prayer, and intercession for Christendom, In litis solitaiy 
rife of prayer Wonderful apocalyptic visions and revelations had been 
granted him. 

The Maharishi's story, which the Sadhu repeated in 
India, and which his biographer Zahir made public 

7' 



'; Willi' SI \!>\R SINGH 

(with st'ver.i] in.hi tir.icifs), is full of highly improbable 

f| f ntB. It is particularly striking that the words 

h.. m ilie Bible which led the Maharishi to Christ 
ire the very same which helped the S&dhu in his 
decision. The most obvious explanation, therefore, is. 
that the Mahilrishi is a Guru figure which has appeared 
to the Sadhu in ecstasy, into whom tin- latter baa 
involuntarily projected his own experiences. Professor 
Hauer of Marburg, who worked as a missionary in 
India for many years, told me that this Mfhirfahi and 
MohSttM* idea as a projection of one's own religious 
psyche in the fictitious form of a holy man is widespread 
among Indian ascetics. Two facts, however, militate 
against this illuminating explanation : first, that the 
Christian Maharishi is known not only to the SSdhu, 
but to the members of the Sannyasi Missinn • some of 
them even consider htm their u Pope," with whom 
they believe that they are in continual contact through 
telepathy. Further, an American mining engineer, who 
travelled a great deal in parts of the Himalayas never 
trodden by white men, spoke to his son before his 
death of the existence of mysterious ancient Christian 
hermits who lived among those mou ntai ns. M ore 
important, perhaps, is the statement of Daud Elia, 
a Christian of Annfield, who was present at the time 
when the Sadhu arrived at the village directly after 
his meeting with the Maharishi. At once he took 
several Christians from Dehra Dun with him on a 
return journey to the KailSs mountains. Bad weather 
a!one> which made the ways impassable with snow 
and ice, forced the pilgrims to return without having 
seen the Maharishi. Sundar Singh points out that on 
one occasion he visited the Maharishi with a Tibetan 
lama. Further, the strong probability of these actual 
meetings having taken place is shown by the fact that 
72 




TIN- LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

undar Singh, in accordance with his own principle, 
I urn not called to proclaim the Maharishi, but to 
l-n -,n li Jesus Christ," has never spoken of the Maharishi 
in public, and disapproves strongly of the curiosity and 
lensation-mongering spirit aroused by his story and, 
Above ail, by Zahir's book. The most decisive evidence 
for the actual existence of the MahSrishi, however, 
comes from the Rev. Yunas Singh. In the year 1916, 
II Gianame, a market town forty miles from Kailia, 
In met some Tibetan traders who told him about a 
" very, very old Rishi " who lived high up in the Kftilia 
lins not fax from the region of perpetual snow. 
Tibet ts not the only country bordering on India 
which is entirely closed to Christian missions; in 
Nepal also — the stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism, 
with its thousands of temples — Christian missions have 
been unable to find a footing. Sundar Singh has also 
nude several missionary journeys in this country, and 
here, too, he has been persecuted for his faith ; here 
also he found frequent support from the secret Order 
of Christian Sannyasis. It seems to be an established 
fact that, at the beginning of June 1914, he left Glium, 
which is in the neighbourhood of Darjeeling, and went 
by way of Sukia into Nepal, and that for twenty-four 
hours he was imprisoned at the large village cf Ilon^ 
which is not far from the frontier. His Tibetan com- 
panion, Tharchin, whom he left at Ghum, and whom 
he met there immediately upon his return, confirms 
this absolutely. After he was set free he wrote these 
words in his New Testament : 

"Nepal. 7 June, 1914. The Presence of Christ has turned my 
prison into a veritable licaven j what, then, will It do in Heaven 
itself?" 

Without his knowledge, Mrs. Parker found these 
words in the S&dhu's New Testament. 



■ 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Aj Sundar Singh went to Mom unaccompanied, we 
know 00 cfottils about his sufferings there. The state- 
ment ol the Nepal Government is non-committal and 
. Sundar'9 Tibetan friend, Tharchin, whom he 
met immediately after his return from Horn, says that 
the Siidhu's body had a number of wounds, sores, and 
swellings, and that be had to do what he could to 
make them better. This fact confirms the actuality 
of the torture by leeches. 

South India and the Far East 

From the year 1912 the fame of the Sadhu spread 
throughout the whole of India. The enthusiastic little 
book by his admirer Zahir, which appeared in Hindustani 
in igr6 and in English in 1917, made his name still 
further known both among Christians and Hindus. 
In the words of Dr. Macnicol, Sundar Singh went 
through India "like a magnet." Wherever he went 
Christians and non-Christians poured out to see him. 
In the beginning of 1918 Sundar came to Madras. It 
was his intention to set out once more for Tibet after a 
short rest in South India. But requests poured in on 
him to do evangelistic work in South India itself among 
the communities which were at that time deprived of 
the German missionaries on account of the war ; so 
he stayed, and worked far some time in that region. 
Every morning and evening he preached to large gather- 
ings j during the rest of the day he gave addresses 
in schools, and received visits from hundreds of 
Christiana who turned to him for light and counsel. 
At night-time Hindus often came to see him secretly, 
as once Nicodemus came to Jesus of Nazareth. Every- 
where he exhorted the Christians themselves to carry 
on the work which the European missionaries had 
begun, and not to allow it to fail to the ground. By a 
7+ 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

lightful parable he tried to rouse them to a sense of 
tin 11 missionary vocation : 

there was a man who had a beautiful garden. The plants 

trees Here well cared for, and oil who went by were delighted 

a \ Then the man had to go away for a time. * But,' 

gJit to himself, ' my son is here, and he will keep it in order until 

I come back." But the son, did not borher himself at &B about the 

and no one looked after the garden. The gate was left open, 

neighbours* cows got in and ate up the carefully tended plants. 

"■atered the thirsty plants, and they soon began to wither. 

People used 10 Stand and atare In wonder at the destrueq'oii that was 

I. 1 .rough!:. But the SOU lolled idly at the window. Then the 

by asked why he was neglecting the garden like this. 'Oh,' 

" ray father went away without telling me what to do.' You 

1 '.Jiristians are just like thin your missioxiarJej Live gone away, 

■inf may not be back im a long time, and you look qn and do not bestir 

yourselves. But if yon wish to be true jons, then do your duly without 

« special command from your father" 

Not only in the mission communities of South India 
did Sundar Singh try to awaken the missionary Spirit) 
lu- turned his attention to the Syrian Church as well. 
These Christian communities claim their spiritual descent 
from the Apostle Thomas, who is said to have preached 
the Gospel in the neighbourhood of Cranagora. Whether 
this tradition is legendary or not, it is an established 
fact that this Church can trace its existence back to the 
third century in South Tndia, In the fifth century they 
adopted Nestorian ideas and their bishops were conse- 
crated by the Nestorian Patriarch, At the end of 
the sixteenth century Portuguese Jesuits succeeded in 
effecting a union with Rome, with the exception of a 
few groups who lived in the mountains. However, 
they soon became dissatisfied with the Latin hierarchy, 
and in 1653 the majority separated themselves from 
Rome :tnd returned to Nestorianism. 

At that juncture a Jacobite Patriarch succeeded in 
winning the allegiance of a certain number for the 

75 



SAD1IU SUNDAR SINGH 

' j" "-Mic Church, which is Monophysite in doctrine. 

II" . i, L , ,. ; explain why to-day this Church is divided 
into three groups; the old Nestorian Church, the 

viiin-Jacobitc, and the Uniat * Church. In the middle 
oi February 191 8, Sundar Singh attended a great con- 
vention of the Syrian-Jacobite Church in North Travan- 
core, at which twenty thousand believers were present, 
and at a large gathering he gave his testimony. From 
there he went on to the Congress of the Mar-Thomas 
Christians, which was held upon an island in the river 
near Trivandrum, and which was attended by thirty-two 
thousand Christians. Sundar Singh spoke to them quite 
frankly. He told them that they were indeed privileged 
to have been granted the precious treasure of the Gospel 
for so many centuries, but he urged them to consider 
seriously why the Good News of Christ had remained 
shut up for so long in this small part of India, On 
account of their neglect, God had been forced to send 
messengers from Europe and America ; strangers had 
to do the work which had been entrusted to them. 
With great earnestness the Sadhu begged them to heed 
the Divine Call and to bring the light of the Gospel 
to the millions of their heathen fellow-countrymen. 

At that moment, as Dr. Macnicol says, Sundar Singh 
" was at the height of his influence " - t he could have 
done anything he liked with the adoring crowds. To 
this period probably belongs that significant inward 
experience which he narrates at the beginning of his 
book, At the Masters Feet. 

One day, when he went into the jungle to pray, a 
person came up to him whose manner and style implied 
a noble and devout nature, but there was cunning in his 
eye and something freezing in the tone of his voice. 

f I*, united ^iih Rome; kraut!]* Ladii Ij'tunjy in iho SvrjaD lacFuace 
and h.ts indigenous bishops. ' * ^ 

76 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

II. spoke to him thus : "Pardon me for interrupting 
v in solitude and devotions, but it is one's duty to seek 
od of others ; hence I have come, for your pure 
unselfish life has deeply impressed me. Many 
Other God-fearing peoplehave been similarly impressed. 
But though you have consecrated yourself heart and soul 
good of others, you have not yet been sufficiently 
rewarded. My meaning is this : by becoming a Christ- 
1111 your influence has affected some thousands of 
Christians, but it is limited to this, and even some of 
them regard you with distrust. Would it not be better 
for you as a Hindu or Mussulman to become their 
tMder ? They arc in search of such a leader. If you 
Consent to my suggestion, you will soon see that millions 
of Hindus and Moslems in India will become your 
followers, and will actually worship you." 

When Sundar Singh heard these words, involuntarily 
he replied : " Get thee hence, Satan I AN along I knew 
that thou wastawolfin sheep's clothing. Thoudesiteat 
that I should renounce the narrow way of the Cross 
and life, and take the broad way of death. My reward 
is the Lord, who has given His life for me, and it is my 
bounden duty to sacrifice myself and all I am to Him, 
whn is all to me. Depart, therefore, for I have nothing 
to do with thee." Then Sundar Singh wept much and 
prayed to God, and when he had finished his prayer he 
saw a glorious and beautiful Ueing clothed in light 
standing before him. He said nothing* and although 
the Sadhu couid not see very clearly for the tears in his 
eyes, such streams of love pierced his soul that he 
recognised his Lord, and he feil at His Feet and wor- 
shipped Him. Thus Sundar Singh overcame one of 
the greatest temptations of his life, the temptation to 
tamper with his vocation. In its essence the temptation 
consisted in this : why should he not become a great 

77 




SADHU SUNDAR. SINGH 

Indian (.'urn, tike Nlnak, the founder of his own earlier 
luili, and thus be recognised and honoured by all, by 
Vcdantists and Bh&kta, by Vaishnava and Saiva, by Sikhs 
and Moslems, the herald of a new syncretism of 
I Etndoism and Islam ; and why should not Christianity, 
too, be included in a system which would give Jesus, 
like Mohammed and Buddha, a place among the chief 
avaiara of the great Saviour-Deity ? But for Sundar 
Singh there was only one Saviour, Jesus Christ, who had 
So wonderfully changed him and called him, only one 
Gospel, the Good News of the Grace of Christ ; for him 
Christ was indeed "all in all'* . . . "Jesus Christ, the 
same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." 

Until May 1918 the Sadhu worked in South India, 
then he went to Ceylon for six weeks, the home of 
Htnayina Buddhism and of the Fali-Tipitakam, the 
Bible of the Htnayina Buddhists. He held three 
meetings a day, and all were thronged by thousands of 
people : Catholic and Protestant Christians, Moham- 
medans, Hindus and Buddhists, Sundar Singh spoke 
severely to the Christians of Ceylon about their spirit 
of caste, wealth, and luxury, which he considered the 
greatest hindrance to the spread of the Gospel in that 
land. In Jaffna (in Ceylon) he experienced Roman 
Catholic hostility for the first time. The Roman priests 
forbade their adherents to attend the Sadhu's meetings \ 
there, too, he was for the first time suspected of being 
an impostor. In July 191 8 he returned to South India, 
and then went North to Calcutta and on to Bombay, 
where he had an attack of influenza. " In this illness,' 1 
he said, " God gave me rest and time for prayer which 
I could not get in the South." When he had recovered 
he went on a missionary tour to Burma and the Straits 
Settlements, and on, by way of Mandalay, Penang, 
and Singapore, to Japan, preaching the Gospel every- 
78 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

. and bearing witness to the great things God had 

■ l"ii' for him. In Penang, where rhtire was a garrison 

■ soldiers, he was even invited to give the message 

I ius Christ in a Sikh temple. In Singapore he used 

English in preaching ; up till that time, in South India 

Burma and Ceylon, he had used an interpreter. 

In Japan he was deeply distressed by the materialism , 

love of wealth and display, immorality and religious 

Indifference of the people. From Japan he travelled to 

China; in both countries he preached to audiences 

Composed of Japanese, Chinese, Europeans and Ameri- 

Bms, Both in Japan and in China he was struck by 

the absence of a caste system, malting it so much easier 

tot converts to join the Christian Church than in India. 

Both :imong Japanese and Chinese Christians Sundar 

Singh made a deep and lasting impression. 

The Sadhu had scarcely reached his home in North 
tndia when he began to make ready for an evangelistic 
tour in Lesser Tibet (Spiti) ; he set out from Simla 
in July 19 19, going by way of Subathu and Kotgarh ; 
on this trip he was accompanied by a Tibetan named 
Tarnyed AM, who had already served him as an inter- 
preter. When he returned home from this journey a 
great joy was given him. His father received him 
kindly, and asked him the way to Christ. The Sadhu 
recommended him to read the Bible and to pray. His 
father did so, and after some time he said to his son : 
" I have found thy Saviour. He has become my Saviour 
too." He specially desired that his son should baptise 
him. " My spiritual eyes have been opened by thee," 
he said, " therefore I desire only to be baptised at thy 
bands." But Sundar Singh refused, as he had done to 
thousands of converts, because his commission, like 
ihii of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, did not consist 
b 1 In administration of baptism but solely in the preaching 

79 



_^-_ 



SADHU SUN OAR SINGH 

of the Gospel. " That is the task of others ; \ am 
called simply to witness to the blessedness of peace 
in Christ." His father paid the expenses of his journey 
to Europe, which had long been a desire of the Sadhu. 

(b) Missionary ysurntys in the IVetf 

What was it that led the Sadhu to leave his missionary 
work in India and the adjoining countries to go to the 
West ? One reason was the accusation so often brought 
by strict Hindus against the West, that European Christ- 
ianity had had its day and that now it had lost influence 
over the life of Western nations. He wished to find 
out for himself whether these charges were justified, 
for in his mission work they were a constant hindrance. 
The immediate reason, however, was, as always in the 
life of the S5dhu, a special call from God. M One night 
while 1 was at prayer I received a call to preach in Eng- 
land. " " In prayer God's Will became clear to me, 
and I knew I ought to visit the so-called Christian 
countries. 1 felt that there also I had to give my witness.* 1 

In February 1920 he arrived in Liverpool, and travelled 
via Manchester to Birmingham, where he spent some 
days unong the Christian Colleges at Selly Oak. 1 Then 
he was the guest of the Cowley Fathers at Oxford, where 
he preached in several colleges and also at St. John's 
Church. In London he preached to great crowds of 
all kinds of denominations : in Anglican churches 
(St. Matthew's, Westminsters and St Bride's, Fleet 
Street), among the Congregationahsts at Westminster 
Chapel, and for the Baptists at the Metropolitan Taber- 
nacle. At the Church House at Westminster he 
addressed a meeting of seven hundred Anglican clergy- 
men, among whom were the Archbishop of Canterbury 

t He siiyci! at KingwrteaJ, the training Home of Uic Friends* Foreign 
Missionary Aw*Kuiiaii. 

So 



THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

, 1.1I bishops. He also spoke at Trinity College, 

I, i:l. , and at various missionary meetings in 

I te went over to Paris at the invitation of 
Mi. Paris Missionary Society! and then went to Ireland 
• i»l Scotland, where in Edinburgh and Glasgow he 

r I the leading Presbyterian churches. 

In May, after three months of work in England, he 

- nl 1.1 America, where he gave his testimony in various 

1 1 many of the great towns and cities like New 

I la] : i more, Pittstone, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, 

■ ■, and Sail Francisco. He also took part in a 

Student Conference. During his tour he took 

i;n it pains to counteract the influence of various Hindu 

ml Buddhist wandering preachers who had already 

i x good many adherents in America to [he religions 

I the Orient. 

■ In the 30th of July he embarked for Australia. In 

Honolulu, where the steamer called, he addressed a 

. urtously mixed audience, consisting of Hawaians, Fili- 

1 1, Japanese, Chinese, English, and Americans. In 

■ , where he stayed for a week, he preached in 
thedral as well as in all kinds of churches, chapels, 
in J lecture-rooms. In Melbourne he spoke in a Congrc- 
1 I church at a meeting presided over by an AngI ican 
1, an unheard-of event hitherto — 3 welcome sign 
■ •I the unifying and reconciling influence which the 
exercised among the various Christian com- 
munions. In other towns, like Perth, Adelaide, and 
I nt mantle, the Christians arranged various united 
Bttherings it which the Sadhu preached. 

On the 25th of September he landed at Bombay, 
ftnd hastened at once to Subathu, at the foot of the 
Himalayas, in order to recover from his strenuous 
activities and to spend a quiet time in meditation and 
prayer. During the closing weeks of that year he once 
r 81 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

DIOR fn"k up his apostolic work, and went preaching 
through the Punjab and Bengal. 

In the spring of 1921 he went out again to his own 
tptt rul work in Tibet. After having spent so much of the 
previous year in travelling from city to city, surrounded 
by admiring crowds, he now wandered about in lonely 
and dangerous places, through the wilderness of the 
1 1 Lg Wanda of Tibet. The previous year he had proclaimed 
the message of the Gospel in crowded churches and 
meeting-houses of the West, now he proclaimed the 
same message in the dirty streets of Tibetan villages 
and towns. 

After his return from Tibet once more he preached 
the Word of God in his native bind. The following 
year he decided to accept the numerous invitations which 
he had received while in Europe, and which he had been 
unable to consider on his first visit to the West, With 
this second journey to Europe he wished to combine a 
visit to the I loly Land, and thus to fulfil his long-cherished 
desire to visit the Holy Places connected with the Master 
he loved. I [is father, wishing to give him pleasure, 
again gave him the money for the journey. On the 
29th of January he embarked and went to Port Said, 
whence he went straight on to Palestine. There he 
visited all the places connected with the life of our 
Lord : Jerusalem (where he preached in the Anglican 
Cathedral), Emmaus, Bethany, Jericho, the Dead Sea, 
the Jordan (in which he bathed), Bethlehem, Hebron, 
Ramah, Bethel, Nazareth, Tiberias, Magdala, Caper- 
naum, and the Lake of Galilee. 

Fof him it was an overwhelming thought that here, 
in these actual places, his Lord had lived and suffered 
and revealed Himself as the Risen Lord. Here he found 
his " practical commentary on the Gospels," The whole 
of the Saviour's Life, the great drama of Redemption 

82 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 



II its phases, became a living reality to this Indian 

u'.iiui disciple; at every step the sense of His 

imcdiate, personal Preser.ee filled his consciousness. 

1 s ■ with me wherever I go ; He waEks at my right 

His soul overflowed with joy, and tears of thank- 

fiiln. ■ , were often in his eyes. When he stood in the 

I • mple area he seemed to hear Christ saying : " I am 

r hat ye may have life, and that ye may have it more 

ibundantly." And when he knelt and prayed in the 
Garden of Ccthsemane on the Mount of Olives, it 
icrmed as though Jesus were standing by him saying, 
ill said to His disciples long ago : " Peace be with 
Pou< As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." 
hen he rose from prayer he knew that he also, 
■ ■ apostles of old, had been sent to bear witness 
<•• the whole world. 

From Palestine Sundar Singh went to Cairo, where 
ached in Coptic churches as well as to the foreign 

I munity. A week later he reached Marseilles, 

BTi bed there, and then went on to Switzerland. He 

Kpoke in numerous Reformed churches in Lausanne, 

, Neuthatcl, Berne, Thun, Basle> Zurich, St. Gall, 

ftltd other places. At Tavarmes he spoke in the open 

in to 1 hree thousand people. In Neuchatel it is estimated 

1I1.11 ten thousand people came to hear him* In Geneva 

Ik bote witness to the Living Christ in the hall in which 

tlii League of Nations meets. W'hen he first entered 

1 Ins remarkable place he said : " The League of Nations 

ide great efforts, but it will achieve nothing until 

. a league of human hearts, and such a league is 

sible when men give their hearts to Him who is 

iln Master of all hearts. In Him alone is true peace." 

In addition, he spoke often to smaller groups of Swiss 

DMtors and theological professors. 

The Sadhu did not stay long in Germany, where 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

he visited the towns of Halle, Leipzig, Balm, I lamtmrg, 
and Kiel ; in I^eipzig and in Kiel he also spoke at 
the University. It is interesting to note that he went 
to Wittenberg* atid that he, whose simple spirit is so 
closely connected with that of the German reformer, 
should have preached in the same church as the latter. 
He speaks of this visit in a letter to his biographer, 
Mrs. Parker : 

" Yesterday J reached Wittenberg, the cradle of the Reformation. 
1 have seen the house in which Martin Luther lived and the church in 
which he used t» preach. It was on the door of this church that he 
nailed the ninety-five theses of the Reformation, and in tliat church he- 
was buried. To-night 1 am to spent in this church." 

From Germany Sundar Singh travelled to Sweden, 
where he Spoke to very sympathetic audiences in many 
towns and smaller places. At Stockholm he was the 
guest of Prince Oscar Bernadotte, to whom he became 
much attached on account of the vitality and freshness 
of his faith. In writing of this visit to a European prince, 
he added these significant words : " But I live always 
with the Prince of Peace." In Upsala he spent several 
days with Archbishop Sdderblom ; at the University 
he gave an address on Hinduism, and in the cathedral 
he spoke on prayer, the Archbishop himself serving as 
his interpreter. 

From Sweden he went to Norway, where he visited 
several towns arid villages, and then went on to Denmark. 
At Copenhagen he visited the former Russian Empress at 
the Royal Palace, When he was leaving she asked him 
to bless her, but he refused gently, saying : " I am not 
worthy to bless anyone, for these hands of mine have 
torn up the Holy Scriptures ; Christ's pierced Hands 
alone can bless you and others," 

I n Herning and Tinglev he spoke to immense audiences 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

In. K reminded him of the gatherings of the Syrian 

ii South India. 

\i the beginning of June he travelled to Holland 

■. of Hamburg j during his stay in that country* 

van Boetzelaer accompanied him. He spoke at 

* .1 ■ mitigen, Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht, 

in. I other towns. Baron van Boetzelacr also arranged 

liny for him with well-known men who were 

unt in the spheres of politics, learning, and 

In fuly the Sadhu arrived in England, quite exhausted 
b) l.i labours. He had already refused pressing in- 
vitations to visit Finland, Russia, Greece, Rumania, 
lerbia, Italy, Portugal, America, and New Zealand, 
I. . I now he resisted all attempts to make him speak in 

I ngland. The only exception he made was in favour of 

Keswick " gathering in South Wales, where he spoke 

. r to keep a promise made long before. His one 

was for rest and quietness for body and soul. 

was not really possible until he reached his native 

bills in the month of August. There, in complete 

on from the world, he renewed his strength 

f. i his apostolic labours. During the last months of 

i Li year he was able once more to proclaim the Gospel 

in his own language in North India. 

Sundar Singh's visit to Europe was regarded every- 
where as an event of the iirst importance. Many Indians 
had visited Europe of recent years, the most noteworthy 
l>. ii: 1 Rabindranath Tagore, the son of a yet greater 
father, the Maharishi Devendranath Tagore, and one 
. I the leaders of present-day India. These all brought 

I I message of India's religious wisdom to the intellectual 

of the West ; and when they talked of a synthesis 

ol Indian and Western culture, they were never weary 

i ctolling the religious treasures of their native land, 

85 



■ 



U SUNDAR SINGH 



above all, the Upaiushads, and of exhorting their Western 
hi trera to Ituay than. Even Brahmabandhav Upa- 
dhyftj i. Hit- Christian ascetic, in his English addresses, 

\<-<-:\ i" praise the Indian caste system as :m [deal serial 

system, and the philosophy of the Vedanta as the phi/o- 
sopfri-i perenvis t a.s the ideal foundation for the doctrines 
of the Christian revelation. Vasvani, the Bombay 
professor, gave a wonderful address at the " World 
Congress for Free Christianity and Religious Progress," 
which was held in Berlin in igto, on 4< The Message of 
Modern India to the West." 

" Present -day India has a message for the world. The sen-ices which 
the West has rendered to India arc well known ; but it is little realised 
that India also has something to offer to the West : it give? access to 
sources of inspiration which the world needs today." " I have pro- 
claimed my message, the message of modem India, which is also the 
message of the Brihaia Stwttfj : the threefofd message of immediate 
union! with the self-rci-caling spirit, of the synthesis of world religions 
which unites Yoga or subjective disciple ship with the teaching of all 
great prophets, and of the brotherhood of humanity which is to be 
regarded as the Son of God." And hi$ message closed with these 
prophetic words: "The West will turn reverently to the East in order 
to learn its ancient wisdom, to develop its mystical sense, to see in Nature 
not merely a field of scientific research, but a sanctuary of the spirit, 
to practise meditation, to learn the spirit of idealism, and in order to 
find the Presence ot God in scci-il life." 

Thus from the lips of a thoughtful Indian we hear 
the same warning which had been uttered long before 
his time by great German thinkers, by Schopenhauer 
and Humboldt, Richard Wagner and Paul Deussen. 
But now an Indian comes to the West who does not 
praise tbe sacred writings of his own country, who, on 
the contrary, confesses that these scriptures Could not 
give him peace ; an Indian who proclaims with all 
possible earnestness and exclusiveness that Christ is 
the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that " in Him dwelleth 
the fullness of the Godhead bodily," that the New Testa- 
86 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

Hi Hi is \\\v Word of God, and that prayer is the way to 

eaven. That an Indian, a religious man from the 
I.liiI of the Vedas, had nothing to proclaim to the West 
the simple message of the revelation of God in 
i in i .■ — thiswas an unheard-ofthing. It was no wonder 
4I1.11 the educated classes in Europe received this man 
wuli the greatest astonishment. Certainly, the great 

I which he awakened was very largely due to 
. i n i. •■ 1 1 y, which was sometimes worked up by an unworthy 

i publicity ; but this curiosity was, as a Swedish 
I id] i xpresses it, " mixed with a certain childlike desire 

■ ir once in one's life what a man looked like who, 
linili outwardly and inwardly, resembled a character in 
Hie Bible," 

The impression which the Sidhu made upon his 
bearers, as well as upon those who came into closer 
touch with him in Europe, was very deep. When he 
Broached in St, Bride's Church in London, at the close 
"almost everyone in the congregation knelt down 
nnd prayed, a thing which was quite unusual in such 
pli i iiit^." Everyone felt, as the Church Times expressed 
It) that "a man from another world was speaking to 
them." Men and women of the most varied professions, 
. buses, and countries agreed in testifying to the deep 
impression made upon them both by his appearance 
ina by his words. An English theologian writes: " I 
i.innot say here, as 1 would like to do, what 1 feel — I 
have the Impression of an outstanding man, who has 
renounced great possessions, exulting in the saving 
power of his Master, and one who speaks with the 
utmost simplicity." A Dutch theologian writes in a 
private letter : ** It was a revelation to me, and seeing 
him has made the world of the New Testament more 
living and real/' A Swedish friend wrote to the author ; 
" 1 1 was indeed a great experience. I bowed my spirit 

87 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

bcfnrc the great apostle because I no longer saw him, 
hut nuly God, whom he proclaimed." A Swiss pastor 
says in a letter to the present writer : " He has made a 
very strong impression upon me — I may indeed say, the 
strongest impression I have ever received in my life." 
And a simple peasant from the Swiss Alps, who had 
heard the Sadhu in the cathedral at Lausanne, said 
afterwards : " I was in the cathedral. That day was a 
day to be remembered all my life, I was happy in the 
midst of my fellow-countrymen with this brother who 
had come from a heathen country and who stood in the 
pulpit." 

Countless Western theologians, who met him first 
with a certain reserve and mistrust, lost all their mis- 
givings at the first encounter. Even learned men who 
were hostile or indifferent to Christianity were changed 
by the power of his personality. A professor of an 
English university, who had been an agnostic, said to 
the SSdhu : " It is not your preaching which has 
converted me, it is yourself ; you, an Indian are so 
like Christ in spirit and in bearing ; you are a living 
witness to the Gospel and to the Person of Jesus Christ." 

in thousands of Christian hearts in Europe Sundar 
Singh has left an indelible impression ; for thousands his 
preaching has meant a spur to a renewed Christian life, 
To him, however, as to Brahmabandhav UpSdhySyS 
twenty years before, his visit to Western lands brought 
bitter disappointment -, he came to realise that the 
idealistic notions which he had held about Western 
Christians were not founded on fact, and that his Hindu 
opponents were right when they spoke of the decadence 
of Western Christianity and of the superiority of Indian 
inwardness and spiritual culture, (14), The pain which 
this unexpected experience brought him appears in his 
addresses again and again. 







PHI LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

I uied i". iliink dial the inhabitants of these couniries were all 
1 I. ; when I saw the Love of Cod in their hearts and 
.In lit us, I thought they must be living Christians. But 
I si..-., lied through these lands 1 altered rny opinion. I found 
ijiiii. otherwise. Without doubt then: arc- true strv.inls at God 

rics, but not all are Christians. I began to compare the 

i : 1 kcathen lands with thcac of Christendom, The former 

■ nise they warship idols made with hands ; in the *o- 

1 Ibu lands, however, I found a worse kind of heathenism ; 

l . .1 hip themselves. Many of litem go to the theatre instead 

■ .,D,1 reading the Word of God ; they give way to drink and 

idj of sins. I began to realise that no European couotty can 

|ir 1 ulli 1! rc-dly Christian, but that there are individual Christians." 

Hiii this painful disillusion could not shake the 

. faith in Christ, He did not blame Christianity 

1 Hi- irreligion and immorality of the West, much 

I did he dream of returning to his former religion 

■ uunt of this deterioration. 

CI ill is not to be blamed in this matter ; there is no fault m Him. j 

1 i.e belongs to those who say they are His followers, and who 

inflow Him as their Leader." "Our Lord lived in Palestine 

Am ilir.-L-and-thirty years, but Palestine, as such, did not become a 

in country j some individuals followed Him, later they Witnessed 

I in 1. nid had to lay down their li^es in martyrdom. The same 

thing is happening to-day." 

I l< often used a vivid parable in order to show that 
[igious and moral condition of Christendom was 
not due to the Christian religion. 

day when I was in tie Himalaya?, 1 was sitting upon the bank 

1 1 river ; 1 drew out of the water a beautiful, bard, round stone and 

1 it. The inside was quite dry. The Stone had been lying a 

m the water, but the water had not penetrated the stone. It 

I ■■ that with the people of Europe ; for centuries they have been 

led by Christianity, they are entirely steeped in iu blessings, 

in Christianity j yet Christianity has not penetrated them, and 

■ it bvc in them, Christianity is nnt at fault; the reason lies 

pith*! in the hardness of their hearts. Materialism and btcllectualism 

)w made their hearts liard- So I am not surprised that many people 

not understand what Chrtsiiatii.7 really is." 

6, 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

His travels in the West were not only a great disap- 
pointment to him,, they were a great danger. Whereas 
at one time he had suffered shame and pain for his 
Christian faith, now he received the plaudits of thousands. 
He was often honoured as a saint ; in England and 
in America a regular " Sidhu cult " was carried on. 
To receive such honour in one's lifetime is dangerous 
for any Christian -, it was doubly so for a convert, and 
still more for an Indian — one has only to remember how 
a Guru may he deified ; how much more dangerous 
was it then for an Indian to receive such honours from 
Europeans I Many of the Sfldhu's friends watched his 
triumphal progress through the countries of Europe 
with grave misgiving. Once more Satan appeared to 
him in treacherous guise ; it was perhaps the severest 
temptation of his whole life. To be universally acclaimed 
as a saint was a far greater assault on his faith than 
the suggestions of his relatives or the pleadings of his 
father, than hungeror nakedness, or even than the tempta- 
tion to become an Indian Guru. The danger lay in 
this : that he might slip into accepting the honour 
which belonged to Christ alone for himself, and thus 
scat himself upon the throne which belonged to his 
Lord and Master. But Sundar Singh overcame this 
temptation mlso • his deep humility remained unscathed. 
Dr. Wcitbrecht-Stanton, who had known him as a young 
evangelist in India, writes : '* I was astonished at the 
natural and unassuming way in which he met the often 
extravagant praises and honours which were heaped 
upon him. He remained the same humble religious 
soul, whose only desire was to come nearer and nearer 
to the Lord, and to grow more and more like Him, 
who longed to wear himself out in His service." All the 
accounts of eyewitnesses agree in laying stress upon 
the unobtrusive modesty and genuine humility of the 
90 




THE LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

llni. Ihre is the opinion of a Swiss clergyman: 
II not want to make an impression ; rather he 

iii> in evade being made much of by people." Again 

iin the Sadhu said in his addresses that he desired 
lu h< nnthing more than a simple witness to the power 

Love of Christ. " I often say to my hearers that 
I !■ I not come to the West to give lectutes or to preach, 

nply in order to give my own small testimony. 11 
1 1 is not for preaching that I have Come to Europe — 

1 ve enough sermons over here — but in order to 

. to the saving power of God in Christ." When 
hi peaks of his own wonderful experiences it is always 
wuli the thought of "exulting in Christ." When a 
Inr in! asked him if he were not proud to have become so 

and to receive so much honour, he replied by a 
beautiful parable : 

1 Jesus entered Jerusalem the people spread their clothes in 

and strewed brandies before Him in order to do Him honour. 

1 " 1 lie upon an asa, according to the word of the prophet. His 

■ not touch the road which Waa decorated in His honour. It 

hsj whiefi rnxl upon the garments and the branch«F But the 

Would have been very foolish to have been uplifted on that account; 

■ the raid really was not decked in its honour! It would be jti»t as 

: iJiose who bear Christ to moti were to thini anything of ihem- 

fra becaUK of what mm do to them for the sale of Jesus." 

While Sundar Singh preserved his attitude of simple 

Humility in the midst of an admiring world, he did not 

from outspoken criticism of Western conditions. 

lit* never hesitated to express his disappointment with 

I he un-Christian spirit of the West, nor to speak severely 

il I the religious indifference, greed of mammon, 

■ ■ ' love of pleasure shown by Western peoples. In 

II uMress in Western Switzerland he said : " t know 
Mill what 1 am saying to you will not please you, but I 
must obey m y conscience and give you the message 

91 



SADHU SUNDAR. SINGH 

which I have received from God." The longer the 
Sidhu remained in Europe, the more did his preaching 
became a prophetic message of judgment and a call 
to repentance. 

" J used, to think rliai the inhabitants of Western lands read the Bible, 
and that they were like angels. Bui whet [ travelled through these 
Countries 1 saw my error. Moat of them have white face* and black 
hearts. In heathen lands 1 see the people going to their temples ; they 
arc God-fearing folk. Here I sec everywhere people who sccid to 
think about nothing but pleasure." " In heathen lands there are people 
who spend >cirs seeking peace arid salvation ; here there arc many who 
sceni to be satisfied with, material comfort." 

" Because the so-called Christian lands, to such a large extent, arc 
falling: away from Christ, He is beginning to reveal Himself to heathen 
peoples, where He is being welcomed and honoured. Here, too, the 
word is fulfilled : ' The first shall be last and the hut first.* " 

At times his message becomes a veritable prophecy 
of judgment in the eschatological sense : 

" The people of the West who have received jo many blessings from 
Christianity nrc losing them now because they put their trSM fa MKwwd 
thing* : comfort, money, Injury, and the thirds of this world. There- 
fore, on thai day, inni-Uirisiuus wifl receive a lighter sentence because 
they have not heard of Christ ; but the inhabitants of Christian lands 
will be punished more severely because they have heard His message 
and they have rejected it." " The lime is near when Christ will return 
again with His angels, and th.cn He will turn to the so-called Christians 
and say to them ; ' 1 know you not ; you knew My Name ; you knew 
who I m. You knew My Life and My Work. Hut you did not wish 
to know Me personally. I know you not.' T ' " When you see Him 
in His glory, then you will grieve that. you did not believe in Him as your 
God. But then it will be too late. You have allowed yourselves to 
be led astray by unbelievers, by intellectual men who said yoti should 
not believe in His Divinity. Repentance will tlicn be too late. Now, 
however, is your opportunity. Perhaps on that day you will hear it 
said : ' A man came to you from a heathen land ; he bore witness to 
Me as the Living Chris!, because he had experienced My power and 
My glory, and yet you would not believe.* " 

The bitter disappointment with the West turned 
the N;"t,llni, i liis messenger uf the Love of God and of 
92 




I HI LIFE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH 

I [i lm-.ivcn.ly peace, into a severe preacher of judgment. 

Whm he had delivered his message, he shook off the 

i luiropc from his feet and returned to his native 

I ■■I. with ilir firm resolve never to go back to the West. 

I hi is the first and the hist time that you will ever 
," he said to his hearers over and over again. 

II gmised that Western peoples — to a large extent 

bri nisr they were entangled by greed of gain and love 

;isure. — were rejecting the message of Christ, 

he people of the East, desiring truth and salvation, 

receiving the Gospel with joy, ([5) To carry the 

Giint I News to these people he regards as his future task 

For that reason, soon after his return he again 

l up the painful, laborious work of missionary tours 

. t.' He is drawn thither, not only by its attrao 

,1 mission field, but by the hope of martyrdom. 

In m address he gave in Switzerland he said : 

" I feel no fear at the thought of one day dying in Tibet, When 

"UlleS 1 shall welcome it with joy." " Each year I go back 

Mid perhapa even neii year you will hear that I have lost my 

hi cluir. l>n not then think ' He is dead,' but say t * He has entered 

id Eternal Lifci he is with Christ in the perfect life.* " 

' In 192 J and I924. he did not succeed in entering Tibet. 



93 



Part HI 

SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

A- VITA CONTEMPLATTVA 

i. Prayer 

THE story of the SSdhifs life reads like some 
wonderful legend, similar in kind to those which 
occur so frequently in the Acta Sanctorum of the 
Roman Church or in the Hindu Bhaktamala. 

If the hero of this story were not still living among 
us, and if this account of his life were not based upon 
the evidence of a thoroughly trustworthy witness, whose 
accuracy can be proved almost up to the hilt, the critical 
intellect of the West would relegate it, without further 
ado, to the realm of the unhistorical, and the literary 
critic would bring it forward as an example of the 
recurrence nf the primitive type of legend. As we read 
the SSdhu's life we realise that we are in the presence of 
sober, historic fact : we are confronted by a man of our 
own day who lives entirely in the Eternal, and who is 
in the closest communion with his Saviour ; a man, too, 
who experiences " miracles" in this life of communion, 
and who is able to work "miracles" in its power. 

The miraculous element is indeed woven into the very 
texture of the life of Sundar Singh. It does not matter 
where we look, whether at his conversion to Christ or 
at his ecstasies and visions, at his self-detiying and 
exhausting life as an itinerant preacher or at his deliver- 
ances from deadly peril, at every turn we are made 
conscious of marvellous, supernatural power. This 
wonderful power is his life of prayer. " Through men 
94 




SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 



yt-r God can do great things " is one of his own 

Sundar Singh's secret is that of all true men 

continual communion, through prayer, with 

i ' nil Reality. Prayer is the world in which he lives 

veS. It is the source of all his piety ; of his strong 

ftltd Llcep love to Christ, of his readiness to sacrifice all ; 

consuming apostolic zeal. He himself says : 

*' Prayer alone has taught me all that I have ever 

I ■ ry morning he spends several hours in Bible-study, 

inn, and prayer. ([<;) When lie is staying in the 

Himalayas, he follows his Master's example by dedicating 

lays and nights to Solitary prayer- knowing by 

nee that prayer is the " bread of life," he con- 

insists on the necessity of prayer in all his preaeh- 

Prayer, prayer* and again prayer," is Sundar's 

Western Christians were much astonished that 

ive such a high place to prayer." Even the 

■ m 1 11.1 nf this book, who has made a special study of the 

ubject of Christian prayer, was surprised to find such 

i.iiit and decided emphasis on prayer in all the 

■ sermons. Sundar Singh never tires of pointing 

Ml ih.it prayer is the heart of religion, the Alpha and 

i of the Christian life. " Prayer is the greatest 

" i ity of our spiritual life." "When we pray r 

King that we need in this life is already granted, 

I for as the needs of our spiritual life are concerned." 

lit order to press home the absolute necessity of prayer, 

Ihu often uses the symbol of breathing, n figure 

■I ipecch often used also in the religious language of 

ilir West. 

" In prayer the soul opens up every avenue to the 
I [oly Spirit. God then gently breathes into it that it 
RW) become a living souL" " He who has ceased to 
Im mi he in prayer is spiritually dead." " Prayer is the 

95 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

breath of the spiritual life . , - prayer means the in- 
haling the breath of the Holy Spirit." 

Sundar Singh develops this thought still further in 
one of his own vivid parables : 

" The truth is that we cannot live a single day, nor indeed a single 
hour, without God. * In Hani we live and OCfti and have our feeing,* 
But moat of us arc lite people who ate asleep, who breathe without 
being conscious of it. If there were no air around them, and the/ 
ceased to breathe, they would be neither asleep nor awake— they would 
die of suffocation. As a rule, however, men never think about the 
absolutely indispensable gift of the air we breathe. But if we do reflect 
upon it we art filled with thankfulness and joy. Our spiritual dependence 
upon God is something very like that. He sustains us ; we live in Him. 
Yet how many of us ever think about it ? How many souls thcTe are 
who really wake from slumber and begin to breathe in the Divine air, 
without which, if it were to be withdrawn, the soul would die of suffo- 
cation 1 What kind of breathing, then, is this * The breath of thc 
soul is prayer, through which fresh currents of air sweep into our being, 
bringing with them fresh supplies of vital force from the Love of God, 
on whom our whole life depends." " All life comes from God, but 
most people never think ahoui this at all ; they Mi quite unconscious 
of their spiritual life. It is only when ^rnan bepini to pray thai he 
becomes conscious of this relationship. Then he begins to think, and 
realises how wonderful it h to live in God." 

" Once I was sitting upon the shore of a lake. As I sat Lflerc I 
noticed some fish who came up lo the surface and opened their mouth*. 
At first I thought they were hungry and that they were looking for 
insects, but a fisherman told me afterwards that although they tail 
breathe quite well under water they have to conic up to the surface 
every now and again to inhale deep draughts of fresh air, or they would 
die. It is da* Kane with us. The world is like an ocean j we can live 
in it carry on our work and all our varied occupations, but from time to 
time we iiced to receive fresh life through piayer. Those Christum 
who do not set apart quiet limes for prayer have not yet found their 
true life in Christ. » - - 

In another beautiful metaphor, which the Sadhu 
uses with true Oriental simplicity, he expresses his 
conviction of the absolute necessity of prayer : 

" God has created both the mother's mill; and the child's desire to 
drink it- But the milk does not flow of itself into the child's mouth. 
No, the child must lie in its mother's bosom and suck the milk diligently. 

96 




SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

■ realcd the spiritual fond which we need- He has filled the 

■ i 1 11 1 -■ n!i desire lor this food, with an impulse to cry out for it 

,: -H.L it in. The spiritual milk, the nourishment of our souls, 

through prayer. By means of fervent prayer we must 

11 r souls. Aa we do this we become stronger day by 

' ' . •■ the infant at the breast." 

I 1 1.. r is both the air we breathe and the mother's ml] A of the soul. 

il prajvr it is impossible to receive supernatural gifts from God." 

1 r is the necessary preparation for receiving spiritual gifts from 

' il " " < 'nly longing and prayer maie room for God in our hearts." 

not give us spiritual gifts excepting through prayer." " It 

... are immersed in the spiritual world llut Vie can understand 

I here arc beautiful birds in the air, and twinkling stars in the 

•«•■*» ■ in, hut if you desire pearls you must plunge down into the depths 

vin to Itiid them. There arc many beautiful things jn the 

■Hid us, but pearls cm Only be discovered in the depths of the 

r wish to possess spiritual pearls we must plunge into the depths s 

■ve must pray, we must sink down into tlie seerct depths of con- 

l and prayer. Then We shall perceive precious pearls." 

U In n we arc in ihc dark we tnow through our Sense of touch what 

I pi., I ■■! uhject we are holding in our hands, whether it is a Stick or a 

rtoth can be felt in the darkness, but we can set them only in 

So long as we are not in the light we grope and tumble about, 

.lint i..u true reality. The man who does not believe in Divine 

ill in darkness. What th^n shall we do to come lo the Light ? 

Wt uiii-l step out of the darkness and approach the Light; that is, we 

I before OUI Saviour and pray to Him fervently. Then we 

bathed in His Light, and we shall Sec everything dearly. . . . 

I 11 ihc key which opens the door of Divine Reality. Prayer leads 

I Itat darkness 3n which, in spite of all our intelligence and power 

"' I 1. we cannot perceive the Light of Truth. . . . Prayer leads 

world oi spiritual light." 

So prayer h "the only way to understand spiritual 

" the only way of discovering truth," the 

■ il, " key to the Gate of Heaven," "the key of the 

Kingdom of God." The man of prayer rises above the 

■1 Id oi sense, and perceives the higher world, the only 

;ind perfect Reality, the "Reality of Reality" 

■ ■■■' soiyast), to use the mysterious language of the 
1 j " 1 1 Jwds. It is only to the praying soul that the 
I I'liiiu.i] life becomes a reality. 

o 97 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

But m Sundar Singh's experience prayer does much 
more than this : not only does it *' open the door of 
spiritual reality," it reveals this Reality to the believing 
heart as self-giving, strengthening, ennobling, redeeming 
Love. God reveals Himself to the praying soul as a 
personal Saviour and Redeemer. Not only does the 
soul contemplate the Divine Being as an infinite Ocean 
or as a sea of flame and fire, it gazes upon a loving 
human face ; the God who reveals Himself in prayer 
is not the Deu$ absconditus^ but the Deus revelalus. When 
Sundar Singh strove with God on the memorable night 
of his conversion, he looked into the human face of 
Jesus and saw that He was God. And as he then beheld 
Jesus with his bodily eycs t so he contemplates Him ever 
afresh In prayer. (17) 

The deepest mysteries of the Christian Faith, the 
Incarnation of Jesus Christ, His Resurrection and His 
Exaltation, become clear to the soul that prays, in 
prayer the Christian experiences the actual presence 
of the Glorified Snn of God ; prayer is the key to faith 
in the Divinity of Christ. That which no intellectual 
labour, no study of the Scriptures, and no theological 
apologetic can achieve, is won by believing prayer. 
" We learn much about Jesus in the Bible,*' says Sundar 
Singh, " but we only learn to know Him through prayer. 
That h my own experience. I did not understand that 
lie was truly God until He revealed Himself to me 
in prayer. Then I understood that He is the Eternal 
Word." From the standpoint of personal experience, 
then, the Sldhu never tires of declaring that there is no 
other way to persona] faith in Christ than the way of 
inward prayer. When his father asked him how he 
could learn to know Christ, Sundar Singh replied : 

If you want to know who Christ is, read the 
Bible i but if you want to learn to know Him per- 

9 S 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 
ully, Mien you must pray. Bible-reading is not 

E expresses the same thought in all his public 



;'li prayer, by thi simple method of prayer, wc become 

1 Christ's Presence and lean to Iriow Him." "You musr go 

U11 iillness and pray to Cliri&t in soJnude: ijicre you will hear tile 

.. .I Him who alone can help you." " Tf you read His Word and 

<•• Him even only for half an hour e^ery day, yon will have the 

l ciperience. He will reveal Himself to your look." " I am sure 

t Hr will reveal Himself to you in prayer ; then you will know Him 

Ha il. And He will not only reveal Himself to you, but He will 

you strength and joy and peace." 

'trength, joy, peace "—these are the wonderful 

which Christ leaves in the soul that prays. " I 

t, and peace that passes all understanding filled 

.. In in." 

hat kind of prayer is this of whose strange power 

!hu never tires of speaking? Is it a childlike 

1 help in the varying difficulties of life, the simple 

request for all that wc need in daily life ? Or is it the 

titration of prolonged meditation and quiet peaceful 

■ in.. version, in which the soul rests undisturbed for a 

ime with the whole world shut out? Is Sundar 

■ conception the same as that longing for happiness 
ed by the Vedic poets, or is it akin to the holy 

V of the BrahmariSj or the peaceful dhystiam of 

luddhist mendicant friars? The prayer of the 

Mm stands midway between these two extremes; 

-I l neither the naive prayer of petition for earthly needs 

is it ingenious barren meditation. Again and again 

>rcsses upon hia hearers that prayer is something 

liferent from mere petition for personal needs : 

"" 'I lit- essence of prayer does not consist in asking God for something 

■ ntug our hearts to God, in speaking with Him, and living with 
I Inn 111 pcrpctiial communion. Prayer h continual abandonment to 



SADliU SONDAR SINGH 

<7od." " Prayer docs DOC mean asking God for alt tinds of things we 
want ; it ii rather the desire for God Himself, the rmly Giver of Life." 
" Prayer is not isking, but union with God." " Prayer is nut a p^inlul 
effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lira. Prayer 
Ul tUc ikaire to poaSeis God Himself, the Source of i\l life." "The 
true sp«it of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving 
Jliiu whrj ii the giver of all blessing* and in living a life of fellowship 
with Him." l ' Prayer b not a iind of begging for favours J it is rather 
bridling and living in God" " A little child often runs to its mother 
ind exclaims : ' Mather ! Mddier ! ! Very often the child does nut 
want anything in particular ', he only wants to be near his, mother, to -it 
upon her lap, or to follow her about the house, for the sheer pleasure of 
hcing near her, talking to her, hearing her dear voice. Then the child 
is fiappv. His hippiness does not consist in asking and receiving all 
iinds of things from Ms mother. If that were what he wanted, he would 
be impatient and obstinate and therefore unhappy- No; his happiness 
lies in feeling hia mother's love and care, and in knowing the joy of her 
mother-love." " It is just the same with the true children of God? 
they do not trouble themselves SO much about spiritual blessings. They 
only want to sit at the Lord's feet, to be in living touch with Him, and 
when they do tliat they arc supremely content." 

In another parable Sundar Singh tries to show how mean and con- 
temptible a thing it is to beg for all kinds of everyday thing! when one 
is in the Presence of the greatness and W&ndcr of God: "Have you 
ever seen a heron standing motionless on the shore of a lake ? Frojn 
ha altitude you might think he was standing gazing at God's Power 
and Glory, wondering at the great eipanse of water, and at its power 
to cleanse and satisfy the thirst of living creatures. But the heron has 
no such thoughts in his head at all ; he Slunds there hour after hour, 
simply in order to see whether he can catch a frog or a J it tie fish. Many 
human beings behave like that in prayer and meditation. They sit 
on the shore of God's Ocean; but ihey give no thought to His Power 
and Love, they pay no attention to His Spirit which can cleanse thcni 
from their sins, neither do they consider His Being which c ll 
their soul's thirst; they give themselves up entirely to the thought m 
how they can gain Something that will please them, something that will 
help them to enjoy the transitory pleasures of this world, and so they 
turn theiT faces away from the clear waters of spiritual peace. They 
give themselves up to the things of this world which pass away, and 
[hey perish with them." 



Thus we see that, for the 5&dhu, prayer is not a 
request for either definite earthly blessings or spiritual 
blessings ; it is communion with God > intercourse with 

[00 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

Yet this kind of prayer does not exclude childlike 

it it ion. But the object of this petition (as indeed the 

Ihu most earnestly recommends and practises in 

>ion) is nothing less than God Himself. God 

Himself, then, is our desire, the Source of all blessing 

. ( iiver of all gifts ; and we must pray that " God's 

Will be done through me, and through others." " The 

only possible prayer for a Christian is : 'Thy Will be 

done,' for he who finds God, and becomes conformed 

).i I lis Will, finds fullness of life and joy ; he does not 

iei ! to link for anything else. 1 ' "Whom have I in 

n but Thee ? and there is none upon earth that I 

■!■ ire beside Thee"- — these words are the key to at! 

i Ihu's teaching on prayer. 

Although the SSdhu considers the desire for God 

If as the only real prayer, yet he sees a certain 

'i naive childlike requests for earthlyand heavenly 

Mi isings ; he looks upon this stage as a preparation 

i 'i true prayer. The soul comes to God with childlike, 

ven with foolish desires ; but the Presence of 

ttnd gradually changes his heart; at last he forgets 

in own desires and gives himself up wholly to the 

Will of God, Or perhaps God refuses to answer the 

J ifil prayer of a soul that it may learn to ask for 

:thmg greater, for His Grace and Love, for Himself. 

When a soul has once entered into living communion 

■" !i God — even if some quite external cause has led 

o it — he discovers, to his astonishment and joy, 

•'iii he has found something greater and happier than he 

i iccted. 



times people ast me thi* question : ' If God doe* nut wish 
k for material things, but for Himself, the Giver of all good, 

the Bible never ay : Do not. pray for this or that — pray simply 
i i the Holy Spirit! Why has this never been clearly expressed? 1 
1 Bemuse He tnew thai rxoplc would never begin to pray if they 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

could not ask for earthly things lite riches and health and honours ; 
He says to Himself : If they ask for such things the desire for something 
better will ■wslffll in them, and finally they will only care about the 
higher things." 

" The fool and the sun's rays, falling upon salt water, cause evaporation, 
which gradually becomes condensed into clouds, which again descend 
in the form of aweet, fresh water. The salt, and all the other things 
in the water, are left behind. In [he same way the thoughts and desires 
of the praying soul rise to heaven like clouds ; then the Sun of Righteousness 
eJetHMI them from the taint of sh by His purifying rays. The prayer 
then becomes a great cloud which falls in showers of blessing, life, and 
strength upon the earth below." 

Sundar Singh regards union with God as the sole 
aim of true prayer ; he therefore rejects with vigour 
all attempts to explain prayer us the endeavour to change 
the mind of God. Prayer is not a means of winning 
God to the side of man ; rather, it should serve tr> win 
man to God. In prayer we learn to know the Will of 
God and to surrender ourselves humbly to it. 

" There arc people who pray a* though we could, alter God's Purpose. 
For a long time this question cicrcilcd me deeply. I received an answer 
in my own experience We cannot alter God's plan, but in pr.r.tr we 
tan leam to understand Hi* Will for us. When we proy in some quiet 
place God speaks to ua in the silence of our own heart." "Then He 
reveals to us His designs for our good i when we begin to understand 
His purposes wc do not even wish to alter them ; we only want to co- 
operate with them. When we understand His plana for us He gives 
a.s strength to live in harmony with, HU Will. It is quite possible that 
His Purpose includes suffering, want, or sickness, but in all these things 
wc find our conation in saying L Thy Will be done.' God's purposes 
WOT* out for our highest good. Once we have realised that, all itlf-pjty 
goes ... all murmuring and doubt disappear as if by magic." 

Although the idea of working any change in. God's Purpose is un- 
bearable to Sundar Singh, yet he speaks of miracles which can be worked 
by means of prayer. Christ said to him : "That which is impossible 
to any human being becomes possible through prayer. My servants 
experience miracles in their own jjves which the wise in this world declare 
to be wholly contrary to sound reason and the Saws of Nature." The 
miracles to which the Sadhu here refers are in the first place the miracles 
which God works in the praying soul ; the greatest of these inward 
miracles is the deep peace which God bestows upon the tortured and 
J 02 



En 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

.Miring heart. "Through prayer we experience the greatest of all 
raclrs, heaven upon earth." 

Rll'ch miracles also arc Worked through the power of persistent inter- 
There are times when one can do more good by prayer than 
idling. A man who prays incessantly in a solitary cave can help 
cople a great deal. An influence goes out from him which 
intlllly pervades the spiritual atmosphere, even though this influence 
d in great Stillness, Luperceivcd by men, just as wireless messages 
ed by unseen waves, and as the WOrcb which wc speak penetrate 
« consciousness ol other people through mysterious channels of cotn- 
tion," 

Sundar Singh's conception of prayer is something 
her than the naive ideas of many Christians. At 
1 1 same time he never loses himself in that barren medi- 
tation and self-absorption practised by so many holy 
Brahmans and Buddhists, and even by some Christian 
5. It is true that he values the method of medita- 
tion — that reflective brooding dhyanam — practised by 
Yogis and Buddhists, the oretdfa di recogimems, as the 
Spanish mystics call it. He begins every season of 
with meditation upon a passage of Scripture. In 
■irience he finds that this concentrated attention 
upon some definite religious truth is like the focus of 
magnifying glass placed upon a piece of material. 
At (he same time his prayer is chiefly contemplative, 
i iking the form of silent vrationtentaiis, " I use no words 
when I pray alone," " the speech of prayer is without 
irords/' His prayer differs, nevertheless, from the fornv- 
litem pi at io n of many mystics by his use of the 
Thou," by his sense of immediate contact with a 
1 God through a strong persona] relationship with 
( tod, which is like that which obtains between friends — 
" men of prayer speak with God as a man talks with 
Qui friend." The Sadhu draws a clear distinction between 
the method of meditation, with which he was familiur 
in Hinduism, and Christian prayer. That which medi- 
tation and contemplation could not give him he has 

103 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

found in the simplicity of Christian prayer : peace of 
heart. 

" As IsMig as I was a Hindu I spent hours in jnttlilalioi every day." 
" That ntay have helped tile to Ctthmte my spiritual faculties, but I 
did not understand spiritual Reality, ... 1 knew what a certain kind 
of contemplation meant, hui I had no ciperienct of prayer. Only men 
1 practised borh did Gnd reveal Himself to me." " For a long time I 
gave myself to meditation, but this brooght mc no peace. Only when 
I began to pray did I feel God's Presence." " One simple prayer to 
Jesus helped me more than all my meditations." M Some time ago 1 
■n tailing with Tagore about meditation. 1 said that I thought we 
could leant many things through meditation, but that in order to under- 
stand spiritual things more was needed." " In Christianity I find one 
very simple method ; prayer. . . . 1*1*1 is the way to follow at all 
times i h is the simplest way. Through prayer we team to know God." 
*" Prayer enables us to distinguish the genuine inspirations which come 
to us in. meditation from those which are valueless; for in real prayer 
God illuminates (fas deepest and most sensitive part of the soul : the 
conscience." 

The Sadhu, therefore, has found the golden mean 
between both extremes in the life of prayer : the childish 
and self-centred petition for all kinds of outward and 
inward gifts on the one hand, and barren self-centred 
jntrnvrrsion on the other. Both these extremes meet 
in the sense that they show that a man is still imprisoned 
within himself, though at different levels of personality. 
For Sundar Singh, on the contrary, prayer is the entire 
surrender of the heart to the Divine Being. That 
is why his prayer does not re-echo in an infinite void ; 
God answers him, reveals Himself to him, shows him 
the mystery of His love* 

Yet we must not think that prayer first opens the way 
to Divine inspiration and the reception of grace ; no, 
in the last resort prayer is itself a Divine revelation, an 
imparting of grace. God is at work before man begins 
to pray ; He, not man, opens the way to communion. 
The search for God, and the longing after God in the 

I Of 






SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

ig soul, is simply the working of that Divine Love 
which draws men to Itself as a magnet attracts iron, 

" He win searches for Divine Reality with all his bean and Mat, 
■Etd finds it, becomes aware that, before he began to seek God, God 
was seeking him, in order to draw him into the joy of fellowship with 
I Inn, into the peace of His Presence ; even as a child who has strayed, 
•Then he is safely back in his mother's arms, realises thai she had been 
. Kir him, with deep maternal love, before he had begun to think 
it hunt her." 

From ail these self- revekt ions, exhortations, and 
parables, we gain a very clear impression of the peculiar 
depth, power, and inwardness of the Sadhu's life of prayer. 
II hi we may go further and listen to the actual outpourings 
"1 his soul. He has himself written down two prayers 
ft Iiuh express m words his wordless communion with 
the Eternal, The first of these prayers belongs to that 
moment in the jungle when he repelled the tempter and 
then beheld his Saviour ; the second forms the closing 
paragraph of his little book, At the Master's Feet, the 
main thoughts of which came to him in hours of quiet 
Communion with his Lord, 

'" < ) Lord God who art aJ] in all to me, Life of my life and Spirit of 

:. have mercy on me and SO lill me with Thy Holy Spirit and 

«iili love that there may be no room for anything else h my heart. I 

ail not for any blessing, but for Thyself, who art (he giver of all blessing? 

and of all life. I asfc not for the world and its pomp and glory, nor for 

but I need Thee Thyself, for where Thou art, there is hcavm. 

I" I li. ill alone jisatislactionand abundance for my heart; Thou Thyself, 

*> Creator, hast created this heart for Thyself, and not lor any Other 

" Ltcd tiling. Therefore this heart cannot find rest in aught but Thee : 

i bee, O Father, who hast made thtt longing for pcaee. So new 

t«ke out of this heart whatever is opposed to Thee and abide mid rule 

Thyself. Anicn." 

" Dear Lord, my heart is full of gratitude for Thy various gifts and 

Wcsiings. The gratitude of bwi and lip* alone is insufficient until I 

lyself to Thy service with my life and prove it by my deeds. 

'IV* Thee be thanks and praise for bringing me, a worthless creature, 

i-'ii <>l in-n-being imo being, and for making mc glad in Thy Jove and 

105 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

fellowship. 1 do not blow Thee fully, and do not know even my own 
needs ; bat Thou, O Father, knoweat well Thy creatures anil llitir 
needs, I nin not able to love myself as much as Thou lowest me. In 
reality, !o love oneself means that 1 should love with heart and sou] the 
boundless love which created me and which is Thyself. It la for this 
very reaion that Thou hast created in me only one heart, that it should 
he jfiihed only to One, to Thee who didst create it. 

Lord, to sit at Thy Feet is many times better and grander than sitting; 
before any royal thrattc oil earth ; indeed, it means te> be enthroned for 
ever hi the eternal kingdom. Now I offer myself as a burnt-offering 
or. the altar of those? holy Feet. Accept it aa and where Thau wisheit ; 
use me according to Thy pleasure. For Thou art mine and I Jrn Thine. 
Thou didst make nic in Thine image out of thij handful of dust and grant 
rae the light of becoming Thy child. May all honour and glory and 
praise be Thine for ever and ever. Amen," 

These prayers are an excellent illustration of the 
sublime thoughts and prayers with which Sundar Singh's 
pamphlets and sermons abound. " His method of 
prayer is entirely that of the Catholic mystics " ; petition 
Is in the background, and where it does venture to appear 
it has one object only : God Himself and His Glory. 
Such prayer is indeed " sitting at the Master's Feet," 
breathing in the blessedness of His Presence, deep union 
with Him in love. The thoughts and prayers of the 
SSdhu can be paralleled in the writings of the Christian 
Mystics, above all in St. Augustine, St. Francis of 
Asstsi, and St. Thomas a Kempts. The famous sentence 
in the introductory chapter of St, Augustine's Confessions : 
"fecisit bos adte el inquutum estcer nostrum, donee requieseat 
in te " — is re-echued here, as is also the cry of St. Francis 
of Assisi : '* Domine, ego nan habeo nee ama nee volo nisi 
te," and some of the most beautiful ejaculatary prayers 
of the hnitatiQ Christi : " Ubi to, ibi caelum" * l Fac de 
me quxdquid tibi p/acuertt," " Qjfero me ipsum tibi hodie 
in servum sempiternum" '* Tu lotus meus et ego totus tuus" 

Behind all the S&dhu's prayers and behind his teaching 
on prayer lies the great Augustinian principle : " Noiite 
illiquid a Deo quaerere nisi Deum" a principle which was 

1 06 




SUNDAR SINGH'S REUGIOUS LIFE 

kid down also by Jalal-ed-Bin-Kumi. And all Sundar 

■ experiences of prayer only confirm that thought 

" grace " of prayer, so often expressed by Augus- 

m 1 which we fi nd in the prayer of Thomas a Kempis : 

" Tu enim prior excitasti me, uf quaererem a." But in 

■pitc of all the undoubted influence of the Imiutthn and 

•I Islamic mysticism through the Granth, Sundar 

1 has not borrowed these sublime thoughts on 

prayer from St. Augustine or St. Francis or from the 

they arc the overflowing of his personal experience. 

That is why both his own prayers and his sayings on 

prayer sparkle like gold coins fresh from the mint. 

The SSdhu is one of the greatest exponents of Christian 

r ; in the Christian history of prayer he takes a 

■ 1 il place, not only because of the decision with which 

tl' '[firms the centraiity of prayer in Christian experience, 
BUI also on account of the lucidity and depth of his con- 
ception of prayer. To many of our contemporaries, both 
in the East and in the West, he has opened up the world 
»f prayer. '* He taught US to pray," wrote a Christian 
! 1 ilu- Malay Peninsula, "for our prayers are now 
quite different from what they were before," 
2. Ecstasy 

Sundar Singh is not only a man of prayer, he is a gifted 
tic. His addresses give no hint of this. In them 
he usually alludes to his wonderful conversion, and to 
! he marvellous experiences he has had of Divine guidance 
ind deliverance ; but he never speaks of the peculiar 
I'll ftual graces he has received ;(r8) even when he men- 
tions revelations granted to him in this state of prayer, 
I says quite simply; "It was revealed to me in 
prayer. . . ." Sundar Singh's mystical gifts were first 
Bltdc public through Canon Streetcr's book- The writer, 

107 



L 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

a (rained psychologist and theologian,, put some very 
pointed questions to Sundar Singh, and obtained from 
him a number of deeply interesting statements, which 
are of great value to students of the psychology of religion 
and of Church history. 

At the same rime, in the opinion of many people it 
is a matter of regret that the Sadhu allowed Canon Streeter 
to publish these most intimate and sacred experiences 
during his lifetime. In so doing he has exposed himself 
ro the reproaches of his enemies, who call him a " mounte- 
bank mystic. 1 ' The seers of the Bible, when they wrote 
down their visions and locutions, concealed their identity 
behind a pseudonym. St, Francis of Assisi,, according to 
his biographer, never revealed to anyone that which he 
experienced ultra fiumattum senium ; his principle was 
always : Beutas servus, qui secreta Domini Dei ofaervat 
in corde sua. Great Christian mystics, like St. Bernard of 
Clairvaux, hid their personal mystical experiences behind 
general theological statements ; others, like St. Catherine 
of Genoa, only disclosed their most sacred spiritual 
experiences to intimate friends or to their spiritual 
directors ; others, again, like St, Teresa, only wrote them 
down at the bidding of a confessor. Many people feel 
that it is a great pity that the Sadhu, in his childlikeness 
of Spirit, did not maintain that delicate reserve which 
is the mark of all great Christian mystics, and which is 
indeed his own normal attitude. He said to Canon 
Streeter : " Generally I never speak about these experi- 
ences to other people, for they would not understand 
me, and, indeed, they would think me a fool." 

The Sadhu has recently published some of his mystical 
experiences in a small book called f'isio/ts of the Spiritual 
World. As his Bishop has sanctioned its publication, 
and has even recommended it in the Foreword, no truly 
catholic-minded Christian can disapprove. The Church, 

108 



SUNDAR .SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 
ing through the Bishops, is the final judge in all 
Jstions of extraordinary mystical experience. 
Sundar Singh's prayer-life shows very clearly that 

fidual ascent which we find everywhere in the inner 
rfeof the mystics, and which both Christian and non- 
Christian mystics have carefully defined as a kind of 
psychological *' ladder," From meditation he passes 
into menu! prayer, from which he "glides " (as he says 
himself) into ecstasy. 

On the physiological side Sundar Singh describes 
BMtasy as that state in which all externa] perception is 
Impossible. "As the diver ceases to breathe, so must 
flic external senses be inactive during ecstasy." A 
friend who came upon him while he was in this state 
noticed that he was smiling and that his eyes were 
wide open ; he addressed the Sadhu, but the latter 
did not hear him. Another time he was caught up into 
ii rapture while under a tree, and hornets stung him Dn 
different parts of his body without his feeling it. 

Ecstasy obliterates not only sensation and perception, 
hut all sense of time and space. "There is neither 
past nor future; all ts present." Yet ecstasy does not 
produce a lowering of consciousness — rather it intensifies 
ii to an extraordinary degree ; it is not a semi-conscious 
nch as hypnosis or trance (from which the SSdhu 
differentiates it sharp]y) y but rather an intensely alert, 
tipra-conscious condition. " It is a wakeful state, not 
a dreamy one. I can think clearly and accurately 
therein," 

Whereas in ordinary mental life external distractions, 
iuh as the association of ideas, prevent prolonged 
Bcmcentration upon one single thought, in ecstasy this 
Concentration is possible : "Here 1 am able to brood 
for :i long time over one thought." The Sadhu goes 
■' for ;is to say that "mental activity in the state of 

109 



" 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

ecstasy is quite independent of the usual activity of 
the brain." 

The content of ecstasy is the silent direct vision 
of the invisible world. " No word is spoken, but 1 see 
everything in pictures ; problems are often solved in a 
moment without the slightest difficulty or effort." The 
whole invisible world lies open to his inward vision ; 
the " mystery which from all ages hath been hid in 
God " is here revealed to his soul | all the religious 
questions which perplex his mind here find their answer. 
He holds inward communion with Christ, he waits to 
receive the inspiration of the Holy Spirit ; further, he 
even holds communion with angels and saints, with 
whom he is on familiar terms. As he contemplates the 
wonderful, unspeakable things of this heavenly world, 
his heart is filled with deep peace, with indescribable 
joy. " The sense of peaceful contentment, the con- 
sciousness of being at home," fills his soul during 
ecstasy ; the effect is always the same ; his previous 
mood makes no difference. When he returns to normal 
consciousness he feels strengthened arid refreshed, with 
all his powers renewed for his work. He confesses, 
however, that at this point he feels it Impossible to 
understand the ordinary man who is absorbed in earthly 
things : " Often, when the rapture is over, it seems to 
me that men must be blind not to see what I see, for it 
all seems so near and plain." 

But in spite of the unspeakable bliss which he experi- 
ences in ecstasy he never makes any effort of his own 
to produce this state, as do the Yogis of his native land, 
fie does not even wait for it, as the beggar waits at 
the rich man's gate in hope of alms t or as the traveller 
looks towards the east at daybreak for the rising of the 
sun. Ecstasy overtakes him when he neither expects 

1 Cf. the wonderful parables of fluunus. 

no 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

BOP desires it ; indeed, when the duties of his state 

< il! him to the service of men, he even tries to stem its 

Klvancc, as soon as he perceives the signs of its coming. 

" Ecstasy," he says in a lucid phrase, " is a gift, which 

iv receive, but which one never seeks for oneself ; 

for him who receives it, it is the pearl of great price." 

During the early period after his conversion this gift 

it yet granted to him ; according to his own 

lecount, " his eyes were opened to the Heavenly Vision " 

in t o r 2 at Kotgarh.' From that time forward this grace 

Was granted to him more frequently ; he reckons that 

nences this gift of God from eight to ten times 

th. The ecstasy usually lasts an hour or two. 

' P»«d with the experiences of Western mystics, this 

frequency is unusual. One has but to recollect that 

I'l.. turns only experienced ecstasy six times during his 

mrse with Porphyry. We must realise, however, 

thai the Oriental temperament, and especially the Indian, 

far greater tendency towards this kind of experi- 

..ui the Western. The Indian temperament is so 

aware of the unique reality of the Divine and 

nothingness of all that is merely earthly, and this 

oust make it far easier to detach oneself frequently 

i long periods of time from the external and 

Visible world. 

I " use a modern illustration, we need only think of 
Iranath Tagore, the poet's father, who would 
netimes for days lost in deep meditation. Once 
■ luring a river journey he fell into an ecstasy through 
Contemplating the beauty of the landscape ; in order 
■01 hi disturb him, the rowers waited patiently for eight 
DOurs before they started out again. 

The deepest reason of all for the frequency of this 
ice in the Sldhu's life must be sought, however, 

1 Id the Himalayas. 

Ill 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 
in his personal spiritual endowments ; it is not for 
nothing that he defends the entirely supernatural char- 
acter of his ecstatic experiences. For him ecstasies »te 
not only hours of blissful communion with God and fore- 
tastes of the heavenly glories, but springs of strength 
for his work as a preacher of the Gospel. In his own 
simple words he tells us what ecstasy means to him : 

'■ The rift of OHM? which Gad las given "= i» ■»<"« P"?™ *™ 
any canllY home could ever be. In it I Cud a joy so wonderful thai « 
tranratd.' all other." " During tie fourteen years that 1 have been 
li.ine as i SlJhu there lave often been time, when lie stress of lunger 
Ihinl, and persecution might have lempted me to five up this way o 
life, lad J 11M just thai KHStred (bs g»K ol «•»»*■ I "™« not 
exchange llis gift for lie whole world." 




Just because this grace is indissolubly bound up wi 



th 
his J divine vocation he is clearly aware of the abnormal, 
extraordinary character of these experiences. He believes 
that the normal course of communion with God should 
be along the line of simple prayer, not in the way of 
ecstasy. 

" Prayer is for everyone, and so is mediation. If it is God's Will 
that anyone should go farther, God Himself wdl slow Ira the ml 
if tlis is not granted lira, lei lim remain contentedly upon the simple 
level of ordinary prayer." 

These words show us that Sundar Singh, in spite of 
his own deep mystical experience, has not lost touch 
with the needs of ordinary simple Christian men and 
women, 

3. Inward Peace 

To Sundar Singh the most precious element in the 
state of ecstasy is the unspeakable peace which he tastes 
at that moment. But this holy peace is not limited to 
these hours of ecstasy, which only come now and again : 
it pervades his whole life. All the time he feels Christ's 

112 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

Presence, which brings with it " that peace which 
thl w "rid cannot give," (19) 

In ... liatevcr circumstances I may be, His Presence gives me a peace 
iSHt all understanding. In the midst of persecution, peace, 
'■ fiappiness have been mine. No one can taic from me tic 
Joy vvliich 2 lave found in my Saviour." 

_ Santi (" Peace ")— no other word falls from the Sadhu's 

lips with such a wonderful echo as this ; "Peace" 

1 "tiy years this was his deepest longing ; yet he was 

I 1I.1 ne in this ; all religious Indians desire it. Both the 
Hindu and the Buddhist Scriptures are full of the praises 
Bi holy Mali, the Bhagavadgitt as well as the Buddhist 
IHi.iiiunapadam, the Theragatha and Therigitha (the 
longs of Buddhist monks and nuns). Some of the Upani- 

h ids begin and end with a kind of solemn, rhythmical 

Chant, consisting of the words i5nti t lanli t sarttu But 

all these sacred writings of his own homeland failed to 

lim the promised blessing ; it was the Living 

. revealing Himself to him in a wonderful way, 

wlio brought him this gift of grace. " In Christ I have 

that which neither Hinduism nor Buddhism could 

", peace and joy upon earth," That is why, as 

".ilnlilom points out, peace is to him "the essence of 

' In 1111," "the beginning and the end of Christianity." 

I he existence of this peace," says Canon Streetcr, 

111.I [he possibility of attaining it, are for the Sadhu 

c of the Christian message." 
This peace which Christ, and He alone, can give, 
urpasscs all thought and all comprehension, all words 
II speech, Sundar Singh says : 

I I is such a wonderful peace, I only wish I could show it to you. 
In tail is impossible, for you cannot sue it — you cannot describe it to 

' There are no words ro eipresa what tlis peace really is." 

my mother tongue I can fmd no word to eipress this peace." 
sc whose spiritual eyes arc open will be able to understand it." 
n 113 



J' 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Yet that which words cannot express can be revealed 
through bearing and behaviour. The Sadhu's face is 
a living sermon about the peace which he carries in his 
heart. Sbderblom says : " He radiates peace and joy. 
One who went about with him a good deal describes 
him as the embodiment of peace, gentleness, and loving- 
kindness." Mrs. Parker says : M That which is so 
surprising about the Sadhu is the quite extraordinary 
Joy which one can sec upon his face — no picture can 
give an idea of the beauty of his smile." It was this 
steady, quiet joy which particularly struck Sundar 
Singh's father, who had only known him as a restless, 
unhappy youth. In 1920 he said to his son : " I have 
been watching your life and comparing it with the years 
which you spent at home. At home you were never 
happy, but now, in spite of your many sorrows I have 
never seen you unhappy. Why is that ? " Sundar 
answered : " It is not due to any good in me, but it has 
come to me because E have found peace in the Living 
Christ, whom formerly I hated." 

Peace and joy fill the Sidhu's soul not only during 
periods of quiet work, but still more in times of distress, 
suffering, and persecution. He says himself: " I have 
experienced more joy during persecution than when 
things went easily." Over and over again, as Sundar 
Singh tells in his addresses, it was just at the hardest 
and most terrible moments of his life that he was most 
conscious of this heavenly peace, e.g. during that first 
night after he had been driven out from his father's 
home ; on a cold night in inhospitable Tibet , in 
prison at Horn in Nepal, and in the horrible mortuary 
at Rasar. 

The most wonderful experience the 55dhu has ever had of this peace 
was on that occasion when he was thrown into & well which was full 
of dead bodies. "The physical suffering was great, but in spirit l was 
114 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

tappy. f began to pruy to God, and Hi? joy flowed into my heart to 
luch an eitent (hat 1 forgot the gruesome place I was in. A wonderful 
peace filled my heart, so lovely tJiat 1 Cannot describe it." ** Never 
mvc I experienced greater blessedness in the peace of jesus, received 
grayer, than during those Very days. Christ's peace turned 
thai deep Well into the Gale of Heaven." " How was it possible to 
iuve the peace of God in the pitch-dark night, in the midst of corpses 
and dead men's bones? Joy like thii, peace like this, comes From 
ROthmg in this world- God alone can give it. While I was sitting 
ih. tl in the well f reflected that I never felt this kind of happiness while 
1 Jived in the house of my parent! i?l Comfort and luxury. Whence, 
CDc this overflowing joy in that terrible den ? I Saw then, more 
■ I; .rlv than erer, that Jesus is alive, and thai it was He who was filling 
tfty heart with peace and joy.*" 

To Sundar Singh this wonderful peace is not merely 
psychological, it has a certain metaphysical greatness. 
I h sees in it not merely the natural effect of certain 
psychic powers and events, but supernatural grace, 
a revelation of transcendental Reality,, the inflow of the 
Lternal Love of God. 

"Tie wonderful peace which the man of prayer feeU during his 
prayer ih nut the fruit of his, own imagination or of his own thoughts, 
but it is the result of the Presence of God in his rati. The mist which 
riles from a pond cannot form itself into great clouds and return to the 
earth as rain. Great clouds cm only be drawn up from the mighty 
ocean, imd it « the rain which comes from them which refreshes and 
quickens tile thirsty earth. Peace docs not come from our subconscious 
life, but from the infinite ocean of the Love of God, with whom we 

■ re united in praycT." 

" I was talking: once with a very learned man, a psych ologist, who 
assured me that the wonderful peace which I experienced was simply 
the effect of my own imagination. Before I answered him I told him 
the story of a person who wai blind from birth, and who did not believe 
ID the existence of the sun. One cold winter day he sat outside in the 
sunshine, and then his friends asked him : ' How do you fed now 1 ' 
He replied ; ' J feel very warm.* ' It is the sun which is making you 
Warm ; although you cannot see \l t you. feel Its effects.' ' No,' lit Mid* 
'that is impossible; this warmth comes from my own body; it is due 
to the circulation of the blood. You will never make me believe that 

■ ball of fire is suspended in the midst of the heavens without any pillar 
to support it," Well* I said (a the psychologist, ' What do you think of 

"5 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the blind man ? " He was a fool ! ' lie answered. ' And you, T I said 
la him, ' aw a learned fool I You say that my jlc.itc is the Effect ni' 
my own imagination, but / have experienced ii. T 

To Sundar SingK this heavenly peace is the centra 
miracle of his life, and not only of his life, it is the central 
miracle of Christianity, the proof of the truth of the 
Gospel. It is the fulBlment of the deepest longing which 
God has put into the heart of man. " Peace of heart," 
he says, " is the greatest miracle in this world ; we find 
this peace only in Christ. He has created our heart for 
peace, therefore it can only be at rest when it has found 
it." " There are few great Christian personalities who 
have had such a deep experience of this peace of heart, 
and who have declared it with such certainty as this 
Christian disciple from that land in which peace of soul 
has been for centuries the highest religious goal. Sundar 
Singh's experience of life confirms the saying of St. 
Augustine : "Inquittum est tor nostrum, dunce requitscat 
in teP 

4. Thjs Joy of the Cross 

Peace and joy — in the mind of Sundar Singh these 
form the motif of the normal Christian life. But in 
his own experience he has never found such pure, deep, 
overflowing joy and peace as in times of most painful 
external sufferings. *' When I had to suffer for my 
Saviour I found heaven on earth ; that is, a wonderful 
joy, which I did not feel at other times. In suffering 
1 have always had such a strong sense of the Presence 
of Christ that no doubt could cross my mind. His 
Presence was radiant as the sun at noonday." 

This paradoxical experience has fed the Sadhu into 
the depths of the Christian philosophy of suffering. 
Suffering is the way to communion with God and to 
blessedness. 

[[6 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

" The Cross is lite the fruit of the wain lit -tree. The outer rind is 
bitter, hut the kernel is refreshing wild strengthening. From the outside 
!'■ Cross has neither beauty nor goodness; its essence is only revealed 
to ihcwc who bear it They find a kernel of spiritual sweetness and 
inward peace." 

"During an earthquake it sometimes happen^ that fresh springs break 
nui in dry places which water and quicken the land so that plants can 
grow. In die ianie Way the shaUerirl^ experiences of suffering Cart 
■ ■. living water to well up in a human heart." 

"A newborn child has to cry, for only in this way will Jiis Jungs 
■ (pud, A doctor once lold Rle of a child who could not breathe when 
it was bom. In order to make it breathe the doctor gave ir. a slight 
blow. The mother must have thought the doctor cruel. Bui he was 
ically doing the kindest thing possible. As with newborn children the 
htDgj arc contracted, so arc our spiritual Jungs. But through surTeiing 
God Strikes u? in Jove. Then our lungs cipatid and we can breathe 
..m..! pny." 

" Once there was- a man who noticed a silkworm in its cocoon ; he 
MW how it Was twisting and snuggling ; it «.as in great distress. The 
man went to it and helped it to get free. The silkworm rrsadc a few 
more efforts, but ;ifttrr a while it died. The man had riot helped it ; 
&C had only disturbed its growth. Another man saw a siUrwrnrn suffering 
ante way f but he did not do anything to help it. He knew that 
this conflict and struggle was a good iJiing, thai the silkworm would grow 
•tronger in the process, and so be better prepare! for its new stage ol 
■fit, liv the same ve^y suffering and distress in this world help ui to 
.get ready for the licit life." 

Thus it is that suffering and the Cross arc the means 
which God uses to give to men the deepest and purest 
blessedness. But the Cross does not bring only blessed- 
ness to man, if makes him like God. Because the 
Bavtaur of the world Himself endured suffering and the 
Cross, in like manner humanity becomes transformed 
into His likeness through the Cross and through 
suffering. True suffering Is part of Christian mysti- 
cism ; it draws the Christian into the closest living 
fellowship with Christ. " It is a great privilege, a. great 
honour, to enter into ' the fellowship of His sufferings.' " 
Hence it is Sundar Singh's earnest desire in all things 
to follow the example of the suffering Christ. In all 






"7 



J 



r- 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the suspicions and accusations hurled at him by his 
Opponents he keeps steadily before his eyes the picture 
of the silent Christ before the Sanhedrin. And as he 
wishes to suffer with Christ, so also he desires to die 
with Him. 

" Bemuse I am glad to share hi the sufferings of Christ 1 have no desire 
to experience His return while I am yet alive. . . . Rather I long to 
do aa He did, to die, sad through the gate of death to enter heaven, 
that ] may understand something of what it meant to Him to die for us." 

Like other great Christian martyrs and mystics, 
Sundar Singh is a true " Lover of the Cross," Now 
and again, like Suso or Thomas h Kertipis, he even 
breaks into an inspired hymn to " the Cross/' which 
hides within itself the deepest secret of spiritual joy. 

" The Cross is the key of Heaven." " There is nothing higher than 
(lie Cross in earth or heaven. Through the Cross God reveals Hii 
love to man. Without the Cross we should know nothing of die love 
of our Heavenly Father, For this reason God desires all His children 
to bear this heavy but sweet burden; for only in this way can our love 
to God and His to as become visible to others" "To follow Christ 
and to carry His Cress is so sweet and precious that if t find no cress 
to bear in heaven I shall beseech Him to Send mc into hell, if that be 
possible, in order that there at least [ may have the opportunity of bearing 
His Cross. His Presence can turn hell into heaven." 

This supernatural power of the Cross only reveals 
itself, however, to htm who accepts it with humility 
and gratitude* " Si libenter partes cmcem, portubit te ti 
duett te ad desideratum jinsm " — in these words of the 
Imitation of Christ Sundar Singh again expresses his 
inmost personal experience, 

" Out of my long experience as a Sadhu and Sanny&i for Christ's 
ante, I cm say with confidence that the Cross will bear those who bear 
the Gross, until it bears them up to heaven, into the actual Presence of 
the ghrifitid Redeemer." 






SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

5, Heavfn upon Earth 

The experience of Christ's Presence in prayer, deep 
[oyful peace of soul, the sweetness of the Cross and of 
lUffcring in this world — all this the Sadhu loves to 
■ til " Heaven; upon earth." This expression, which he 
p 1 again and again, both in his public addresses and in 
private conversation^ Sundar Singh has not borrowed 
In. in the New Testament or the Imitata C/iristi, still 

"om Luther or from Jakob Bbhrne, but rather 
from the old Vedic writings. In one of the most 

is of the Upanishads this phrase occurs : " In 
very deed, this Atman is in the heart ... in truth > 
In who knows this enters daily into the heavenly 
world." Like that Brahman sage, Sundar Singh feels 
us though the whole of his life since his conversion 
has been lived in heaven, ** This is my testimony,'* 

! again and again in Switzerland, "for the past 

years I have lived in heaven. 11 But his sense 

>d present eternal bliss reaches its highest point when 

Ik- has to endure hardness for Christ. That terrible 

which he had to spend in the open after he was 
driven out of his home he calls his "first night in 
heaven* 11 After his imprisonment at Horn he wrote on 
(lu- lir*t page of his New Testament : " Christ's Pre- 
- im- has turned my prison into a heaven of blessing." 
In the horrible den full of corpses he said to himself : 
" This hell is heaven ! " This supernatural experience 
of " heaven upon earth " is based on prayer, which 
itself brings man into immediate living communion 
with the Lord of heaven. 

** III proportion to the (eality of our inward prayer is our ciperic-ntre 
Of joy and heaven upon earth." " When our souls are in communion 
with God and we experience the Reality of His Presence, we dJHQVtf 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

thai heaven rntWHll in the possession of perfect pi.uL-" " When wt 
wail upon God in the slillnc^ of prayer," " wc do not need to wait for 
the neit world, we have already reached heaven upon earth-" "Tk* 
Christian Jives already in heaven here upon eirtru His heavenly life 
consist* in prayer, in continual communkm with God in prayer." " [n 
prayer W< -ire filled with the life of God and. taste Lhe bJiss of luuven." 
" Eternal] life is lived in prayer and is begun here below." " Through 
priyra tins earth is turned into God's heaven." 

For Sundar Singh the whole mystery and wonder 
of the Christian life Consists in the fact that " life in 
heaven " begins upon this earth, that eternal blessed- 
ness begins in time. " This is the mystery r that here 
on earth we begin to live in heaven, because we live 
with our Saviour." For the SSdhu, Christianity is not 
so much a religion which consists in the promise of 
heaven, or the hope of heaven, but rather in heaven 
as a present possession, 

" All other religions offer a future redemption, but Christianity say* : 
Now. The nian who wrote these words, * Now is the Accepted time, 
now is the day of salvation," knew this from experience " 

■' He who believeth on Me hath everlasting life "— 
this word of the Johannine Christ is in the background 
of all Sundar Singh's thinking about heaven upon 
earth. 

One cannot indeed find a stronger defender of 
Christian " other-worldliness " than this Indian Christ- 
ian disciple ; but the " other world '* is not for him 
something in the future, but a present gift of grace ; 
something which is great and wonderful, not in the 
apocalyptic, eschatological sense, but in the mystical 
sense. 

It is only this present experience of transcendental 
Reality that makes it possible to have the right attitude 
towards the future life • it is only because the Christian 
life already involves having " our conversation in 



1 






SUNDAR SINGH-S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

heaven " that we are able to regard it as a school or 
preparation for the heavenly life. 

" Many trunk., m l did when [ was a Hindu, that joy and b\'m are 
nrdy attainable in a future existence. But when I became a Christian 
I round that joy and bliss do not belong to us merely in the neir world, 
hut that wc can say that here on this earth wc arc in heaven." " There 
.11- anatopy Christians who rejoice in the thought of entering heaven 
.. I u-r den h, but they do not realise that heaven mott begin here on earth. 
I do net believe In a religion which only offers a heaven after this life is 
il .1 " Your dwelling- place js not lierc ; the real home is above, 

i before you go thither you must begin to live in your rightful home. 
I 1 ; k Christiana who wait for heaven, but who are not at home in 
heaven already, will fee] rather rt range when they reach the ' many 
mansions.* They will not enjoy being in a place and in surroundings 
to which they arc not accustomed." 

"Heaven upon earth" — to Sundar Singh nothing 
less than this is the Christian life. All the deep joy 
of his soul re-echoes in these words. But to him 
heaven means Christ. The Christocentrie character of 
his piety shows itself most clearly at this point. It 
was indeed Christ Himself who brought heaven to 
the SSdhu at that moment when he had determined to 
leave this world by the gate of suicide. Now he can 
say ! " In thin present life I am already in heaven, 
because I am in Christ." 

B. VITA ACTWA 
i. Brotherly Love 

" The life in heaven " which the S5dhu lives is not 
one of idle dreaming, but of strenuous industry * The 
peace of heart which he values sr> highly is no self- 
centred enjoyment, but the source of tireless work for 
his brethren. The same man who spends whole days 
in quiet communion with the Eternal also travels from 
land to land with bleeding feet, in order to bring 



r 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

salvation to others. The same devout sou] who pro- 
claims constantly th<; wonders of the mystical inward 
life always speaks with the warmest appreciation of 
the glory of unselfish acts of love. The same man of 
prayer who never omits any opportunity of saying to 
his hearers, " Pray without ceasing," also never tires of 
Calling them to selfless service for their brethren. 

Like the greatest Christian monks and mystics, 
Sundar Singh unites in wonderful harmony the vita 
contemplatfaa and the vita acthw — " he has indeed," as 
Evelyn Underbill remarks, " discovered that balance of 
life which is laid down in the Rule of St. Benedict." 
In the early morning he sits "at the Master's Feet" 
in silent prayer 5 far from all earthly sights and sounds 
he sits rapt In ecstasy. Throughout the day he 
proclaims the message of Christ to crowds of people, 
and helps with loving pastoral care the souls of indi- 
viduals who come to him in their inward distresses and 
perplexities. 

It would be quite impossible to the Sadhu to spend 
his life remote from the world in solitary communion 
with God. " God did not create us to live in caves, 
but to ga out amongst men and help them." The 
miracles which he experiences daily in his quiet hours 
of communion with God drive him out again to work, 
to activity, to the proclamation of the Gospel, to mis- 
sionary journeys. The heavenly peace which he receives 
from his Saviour's presence is a perpetual incentive to 
the spreading of the Good News of Christ. He may 
not keep to himself the joy which is given him - v he has 
to pass it on to his brothers who are in spiritual need. 

*' To him who hm received this peace nn-d happiness, it is not necessary 

to say: ' Go and tell others.' He cannot icep it to himself." "This 

is the most important things that, after We have received the blessing, 

we give it out again to others without delay. ... If we have really 

122 



arc 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

received the love of Christ and been gripped by it, wc cannot possibly 
ait Still. Wc must go out and pass ir on to others." (3D) ** He who is 
saved, loves Other people and longs to help them. God indeed is nothing 
but Love. How can we possess and enjoy this love without . . . think- 
ing of Those who have the same right to it as wc have } " 

" Once God has become a living Reality to us, we simply liavc to love 
our fellow-men ; wc cannot help it, If His Life has vitalised us, wc 
begin to live in love, quite naturally, and it is a joy to be loving to others. 
If wc live in Him and He in us, we cannot help serving our brethren. 
For God is Love, arid in union with Him we become strong to love and 
htlp others." 

" No one ought to thini that what he has to give others ii not worth 
giving:, however small or poor it may seem. Many tiny brooJii go to 
the making of a river. What the Lord most desires is faithfulness in 
smaJJ things, in small services to others. Therefore may the Lord lead 
as into the fellowship of giving and receiving, that we, sharing the 
quietening grnce of God, tnay be blessed in our own hearts and then 
become a blessing to others." 

Gratitude for the salvation received from God urges 
the Christian forward, of his own accord, to works of 
love for his brethren. God Himself has made an 
infinite act. of love towards man in laying aside His 
divine glory, becoming man, and, as man, in suffering 
and dying for our salvation. Therefore the redeemed 
soul> who has received so much from God, must go 
out and give love to his brethren, sacrifice himself for 
them, in order to be to them in some sense a redeemer 
and a saviour too. 

" Christ came down from heaven in order to redeem uj ; if He had 
remained! in heaven we should have been lost. If we are selfish and 
live comfortably without troubling ourselves about our brothers, it shows 
that wc have not understood die example which Jesus Christ ga.ve us 
when He came down from heaven," 

Self-surrender and self-sacrifice are the only means 
whereby redeemed men can bring redemption to others. 

" Many people despise those who give their health, their Strength, 
their means,, for others, and call them fools ; and yet they arc those who 
■re able to save many." " Not until wc lavish our strength do men 

"3 



■ 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

begin In sec thai wc arc not selfish, but that we are really redeemed. 
Our Saviour says thai wc are the salt of the earth. Salt does not impart 
lit fitTOBf to Other things until it is dissolved. Suppose we put some 
salt into a saucepan with boiling rice. . . . Because it dissolves it gives 
flavour to thousands of grains of rice. m. the same manner we can only 
redeem otters by giving ourselves up For them." 

So the Christian gives out the love which he has 
received from the Father ; he gives his life for his 
brethren. But that which he gives away he receives 
back in full measure. The strength which he seems to 
lose flows back again. Generous, helpful, self-sacrificing 
love heightens the joy which man receives from God 
through humble faith, 

"This giving out becomes a blessing to ourselves. That is my own 
experience. When I went up to Tibet, if I did not give out some 
blessing or power which I felt I possessed, I lost my peace ; and when 
I gave away any gift of strength, then peace came back." "The pipe 
which carries water from place to place is always clean, because it is 
Uwsys being cleansed by fresh pure flowing water. It is just the same 
with those who are used by the Holy Spirit to serve as channels of the 
living water to others. They keep themselves pure and holy and become 
heirs of God's Kingdom." 

As the inner life with God grows through the loving 
service of others, so it contracts if tt shuts itself up to 
self-centred reflection, caring nothing for the world 
outside. A mysticism which confines itself to " pure 
contemplation " spells the death of true fellowship with 
God. By a scries of vivid parables and stories the 
Sadhu illuminates this side of his experience. 

" Fish which always live in (he depths of the ocean lose some of their 
faculties, lite the Tibetan hermits who always Jive in the dark. The 
ostrich loses his power of flying because he does not use his wings. There- 
fore do not bury the gifts and talents which have been given to you, but 
use them, that you may enter into the joy c-f your Lord," 

" While I whs in Tibet I saw a Buddhist, a monk, who had lived 
for five or six years in a cave. When he went into the cave he had good 
eyesight. But because he stayed so long in the darkness His eye* grew 

124 



I 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RF.LIGIOUS LIFE 

WttlJcef (Bid weaker, and at last he became quite blind. Il is just the 
fame with US, If we do not use the blessings which we have received 
Iniii 1 it>d for His Glory, we are in danger of losing I hem for ever." 

" When I waa in Palestine L stood by the Jordan and said to myself: 
' This fresh water is always flowing into the Dead Sea, and yet the Sea 
remain 3 dead, because it has no outlet.* . . . liven so there are individual 
Christians and Christian communities and churches which arc dead 
because the living waters of the Gospel are always flowing into them, 
but they are not flowing out again to make the land fruitful* They 
receive gifts of knowledge and otpcriaae*, but they do not share them 
with others. The gifts of the Word and of the Spirit come to them, 
but they do not give them out again to those who have diem not." 

Thus it is clear that all Christian service, all works 
of mercy and of humble devotion, hive their source in 
God ; they flow out spontaneously from the soul which 
has humbly received the love of God. Therefore this 
service of the brethren is no mere human activity ; it 
is the creative work of Divine grace* In a living 
Christian experience faith and love are inseparably 
united, 

" In our own strength we are powerless to ladinic a wide-spreading 
selfless love. When 1 was a Hindu I tried to love others because my 
religion told me to do so. 1 wanted to obey the precepts of my religion, 
but I lifld no power to carry it out. The mere command eould not 
create within me that love which I did not possess. But when Christ 
revealed Himself to me, then I learnt by experience the meaning of true 
love. Then I saw the difference between Hinduism and Christianity. 
Hinduism left me shut up in my narrow selfishness, but Christianity 
made it possible for me to b've for others." 

With rare clarity and wonderful power Sundar Singh 
has expressed the fundamental Christian idea of that 
" Love of the Brethren " which flows out of the inward 
experience of God's Grace,, of that " faith which worketh 
through love." 1 Since the time of Luther, perhaps, 
this inward conviction has never been so clearly seen 
nor so strongly emphasised. It is surprising to find 



k_ 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

how many thoughts of the Sadhu correspond almost 
word for word with expressions used by Luther, in 
spite of the fact that Sundar Singh has never come into 
direct touch with Luther's writings. 

" A|| Christian doctrine, work, and life is summed up briefly, clearly, 
and supremely in these WO things : Faith and Love, by mean! of which 
man jj placed between God and liis neighbour in order, to receive from 
Cod and to pass on to his neighbour that wlikh h given him ; he is like 
* vessel or a pipe through which the fountains of Divine blessing flow 
unhindered into the liven of others." 

"ThJj epistle (Titui iii. 4 S.) teaches US two things: Faith and 
Love — to receive benefits from God, and to give them to our neighbour. 
, . . The stronger a. person's faith, the more ready and willing he is 
to rake trouble about helping other people. Thu* faith brings forth 
love, and lotfe increases faith. And from faith, love and longing flow 
out towards God, and love flows out again in tree, willing, happy service 
of one's neighbour, looking for nothing in Teturn ." 

" Indeed, my God has given to mc, an unworthy, guilty mortal, all 
the riches of Christ's blessedness, so thai I can rest in its sure possession ; 
yery well then, [ will give back to a. Father who hag lavished upon me 
so much out of His great Heart, all that I can, and this freely, happily, 
and purely for love's sake, desiring only to please Him, and J will try, 
too, to be a. Christian towards my neighbour, as Christ has been to me, 
doing simply that which is best for him." 

" Now thou, sccst here that Hi hath loved un and done all His works 
for us, to this end only, that we should do the same to our neighbour 
(not to Him, for He does not need it). . . . It is like this : Christ 
hclpeth us, and we help oar neighbour, and all have enough," 

* When we sec what great mercy we have received from Christ, 
then is our heart glad that jt hath found someone on whom it may 
bestow this benefit after the example of Christ, Therefore, he who is 
not ready in his heart to serve his neighbour with all that he has . . . 
that man neither Iraoweth nor understandcth the meaning of these words : 
God's Son became malt." 

These glorious sayings of Luther re-echo wonderfully 
clearly in the message of the Christian SSdhu. This 
involuntary agreement of Sundar Singh with Martin 
Luther is a fresh testimony to the fact that the German 
reformer had heard the inward music of Christianity 
and had found it to he nothing less than " Faith and 
Love" [Glauben und Lieben]. 

126 







SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

2. Witness for Christ 

Sundar Singh's heart longs for solitary fellowship 
with God, for quiet blissful intercourse with heaven. 
The complete withdrawal from this world experienced 
in ecstasy is his real home on earth. And yet again 
and again he feels impelled to leave his solitude, and go 
out into the noisy world in the service of his brethren. 
In this, he sees, lies the great task which the Christian 
must fulfil during his brief lifetime, a task which is 
more precious and holy than that of the angels who 
surround God's throne. 

The urgent desire to serve his brethren and to bring 
to them help and deliverance is only one of the motives 
which leads the Sadhu to the vim octree. The other 
motive is the desire "to bear witness" to the miracles 
which God has wrought in him, and so to give to God 
" the glory due unto His Name.'' Even when the 
ministry of self-giving love seems an utter failure, when 
men reject the Good News which is brought to them 
in loving words and deeds, even then it is still a duty 
as Christ's witness to speak to deaf cars and hard hearts, 
and, if need be, to seal this testimony with suffering : 
in persecution and imprisonment, even to torture and 
to death. The Sadhu can say with the Apostle, " Woe 
unto me if I preach not the Gospel." In the following 
words Sundar Singh has expressed this irresistible 
impulse to proclaim God's message : 



' ff we have really received God*s redeeming message, it becomes 
1 power within us which impels US lo speak of the Lord- Those who 
have experienced this cannot sit still and keep silence nbout that width 
God has done for them ; no, they must speafc." " We have no ri*>ht 
to be silent; even when confession of Christ leads to persecution and 
suffering we must bear witness." 

127 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

But this witness-bearing to God's Grace is no mere 
stem duty, it is the joy of his heart and a precious 
privilege, 

" It is » joy to me to be allowed to bear witness." " 1 want to bear 
witness of lay Saviour, because I have received so much from Him." 
" What a privilege it is to be His witness, a witness of the Living Christ ! 
That is a privilege not even given to the ftngels, because they cannot 
testify to Hia power as Redeemer. They have no experience of salvation 
because they have never sinned. Only those who have been saved by 
His grace can bear witness." " O what love God has shown toward 
us, in refusing this honour to the angels, and in granting it to men-" 

The highest and holiest form in which a Christian 
can bear witness, the fiapruptav par excellence^ is the 
witness of bloodj the martyr's death for Christ. It is 
the S&dhu's greatest longing to hear this kind of witness. 
The attraction which he feels for the closed land of 
Tibet is based very largely on the possibility of meeting 
his death in that country for proclaiming the Gospel. 
In his addresses he loves to dwell upon the martyrs 
who have suffered death for Christ in Tibet, Armenia, 
and other places. Far dearer to him than all other 
" sights " were the pictures of Christian martyrs in 
Western picture-galleries (such as the picture of 
St. Sebastian at the Louvre) and shrines of martyrs 
which were shown him in Western churches (as„ for 
instance* the grave of St. Eric in Upsala Cathedral). 
But b spite of this passionate attraction towards literal 
martyrdom for Christ, the Sadhu speaks with deep 
appreciation of that silent martyrdom which consists in 
a life of daily self-sacrifice for Christ's sake. 

Christ speaks : ' l To many a believer it ii easy to die a martyr's death 
for My sake* But I need also living mart) ta, who offer dienwwrra 
duly as living sacrifices, for others. For it is easy to die for Me, but 
difficult to Eve for Mt-i for he who lives for Me dies, not once for all, 
but daily," 
118 



I 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 






There is not only a public but a hidden martyrdom 
which is consummated, not upon a scaffold, in the sight 
of all, but in the midst of everyday life. Every Christian 
is called to be a " martyr," a witness for Christ. Even 
the poorest and weakest can, by his life, " bear silent 
but eloquent witness " to the love and power of God. 

It is not necessary for everyone to be a preacher." " It is quite 
possihle to be 2 great preacher without being a witness for Christ. Ii 
is also possible w be a living witness, indeed a great witness, for Christ 
without being a preacher or a Speaker." " Every Christian, whether 
man or woman, boy or girl, rich or poor, workman or peasant, writer 
or pries!, judge or official, doctor Or lawyer, teacher or pupil, Govern- 
ment official or missionary, is only a Christian on condition that he 
witnesses for his Lord. In order ten bear witness to Him it docs not 
necessarily follow that we must preach in the bazaar or from the pulpit, 
or that w = must conduct Bible classes, Sunday Schools, and Christian 
Unions ; no, these arc only some of the ways, by which we can witness ; 
but all Christians, wherever they arc, have the opportunity of witnessing 
for their Master. They can do this by their upright life, their b]ameless 
character, by the category of their behaviour and their sincerity in speech, 
by their enthusiasm for their religion, and their love for thejf Master, 
using every possible opportunity of telling others about Jesus Christ." 
" Every one of them can be a witness for Christ* not only with his iips 
but by his whole life." " Every Christian ought to be a living martyr, 
who lives for the sake of his Master." 



3. In the WohxDj yet hot of the World 

The true Christian life is to be vka mntempfativa 
and vim aetiva, life in God and life for the brethren, 
solitary prayer and public witness. 

" What are the most important things a Christian has to do? They 
fire two, and the one depends Upon the other : prayer and work. They 
are like the lungs, both of which hare to be used." 

Viewed from this double aspect, the Christian life 15 

both life in heaven and life in the world. He who 

would live only in heaven, turning his back upon the 

whole world, is in danger of losing heaven altogether ; 

1 129 



L 



r 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

on the other hand, he who pours himself out in work 
for the world tc such an extent that he forgets God will 
find that all his human efforts will not suffice to bring 
him to heaven. So the Christian must take the risks 
of living and working m the world and yet have his 
heart in heaven, which is his eternal home. The S&dhn 
expresses the richness of this double life constantly in a 
phrase which he has borrowed from the great founder 
of his ancestral faith, Guru Nanak : " Although I am 
in the world, I am not of the world " — a thought which 
Luther has expressed in somewhat the same way : 

" So ! am separate from the worldj and yet I am in the world. No 
one is less in the world than a Christian, and no one is more worldly than 
h Christian." 

" We must so live in this world,'* says Sundar Singh, 
" that we are reaJ/y in the world yet not of it." In a 
delightful parable he expands this thought in further 
detail: 

" The fishes of the lea live in saJt water, yet when we cat boiled fish 
there i» no salt taaie in the water in which they liaVc been boiled. They 
have lived in an atmosphere impregnated with wit,, yet they have kept 
free from it* rkvotii. So do true Christian* live in the world, without 
rating it into their hearts." " The man of prayer remains free from the 
taint of sin although he lives in a sin-stained world, because his inner 
life is preserved by prayer." 

The Sidhu expresses his idea of the Christian's rela- 
tionship with the world in a similar formula : " Although 
we are, and ought to be, in the world, the world must 
not enter into us." In vivid parables the Sadhu illus- 
trates this truth. 

"The world is like in ocean. We cannot live without water, it is 
true, but it is ilso true that wc cannot live if wc allow the water to engulf 
us, for there is Hit in water and also death. If We make use of water 
wc find that there is life in it, but if we are drowned we find death*" 
* In this world we are like little boats." " A born u only useful on the 
13° 



SUNDAR SINGH'S RELIGIOUS LIFE 

water ; for there it conveys men from one shore to another. Brjt if 
We drajr it overlnnd, through fields, or into a town, we find that as a 
wbjcle it \i utterly useless. The pk« for a boat is on a river or on the 
sea. But this does not mean that the water must be i* the boat. For 
if it h in the boat, the boat will become useless ; no one would then be 
able to steer it over the Water. It would fill with water, sink beneath 
the Waves, and whoever was in it Would be drowned. The boat must 
be jn the water, but the water must not be in the boat," 

" In the world, yet nut of the world," *" We are in 
the world, but the world is not in us " — these are 
indeed wonderfully simple formulas for the Christian's 
attitude towards the world. But how is the believer 
to live and act in the world without being either affected 
or infected by it ? The Sadhu replies : " Christ must 
be in us instead of the world." And he points once 
more to that Communion with God through which the 
Christian achieves the apparently impossible task of 
keeping pure in the midst of a world of temptation and 
conflict, in the midst of a world So full of attractive 
sensuous suggestion, by keeping his eyes steadily fixed 
upon the supra-sensual world. 

"There is one remedy which will protect us against the sinister 
influence of material things i but We must have recourse to it daily — it 
il prayer. If we live in prayer we arc hidden in God. I too have 
found that I had to flee to prayer when the thing? of this world threatened 
to cast their spel] over me." 

Prayer, then, has the power of performing a double 
miracle : it brings man into communion with the 
Eternal, it brings him into touch with his Divine 
Saviour and at the same time it gives him power to be 
active in the world without losing himself in it. Prayer 
is the secret both of the visa contemplative and of the 
•pita activa* 






•3' 



! 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD OF 
THE SADHU 

i, TnjsoiociA Experimental^ 

SUNDAR SINGH is absolutely childlike in his 
intercourse with God. He belongs to the 
category of naive religious personalities, not to 
the " reflective," to Francis of Assisi and to Luther, 
not to Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, or Calvin. Although 
in his youth he was familiar with the theological and 
philosophical wisdom of India, and although later (in 
the college at Lahore) he gave himself to the study of 
Christian theology,, neither his piety nor his evangelistic 
message bear the marks of any particular philosophical 
or theological tendency. Any purely intellectual specu- 
lation about Divine Reality is as far from his way of 
thinking as is any attempt to reduce Subjective experi- 
ence to an ordered whole. Sundar Singh knows one 
kind of theology only t the theologia experimeniaiis^ or 
perhaps it is truer to Say : he has one sole criterion in 
religious matters — personal experience of salvation. The 
sworn enemy of all theological intellectualisrn, he rejects 
both those definite abstract conceptions which are the 
contribution of philosophy to theology and that 
subtle logic which attempts to construct a uniform 
theological system. 

Expertus sum is the only proof that he can offer for 
the joyful assurance of his faith. Experts — that h the 
only advice he can offer to others, 

" In Christ I have found what Hinduism and Buddhism could not 
give me, peace and joy in this world. People do rot believe* because 
[32 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

they are strangers to the experience. Once when I was wandering about 
in the Himalayas, in the region of eternal now ajid ice, I came upon 
some hoi springs, and 1 told a friend about them. He would not believe 
It- ' How can there he hot springs in the midst of ice and snow I ' I 
Mid : ' Come and dip your hands in the water, and you will sec that I 
am right,' He came, dipped his handi in the water, felt the heat and 
believed. Then he said : * There muit he ft fire in the mountain. 1 So 
after Tic had been convinced by erpcrience his brain began to help him 
to understand the matter. Faith and experience must come first, and 
understanding; will follow. We cannot Understand until we have some 
spiritual experience, and that comes through prayer. , , , As wc practice 
prayer We shall come to know who the Father is and the Son, we shall 
become certain that Chrisr is everything to us and that nothing can 
Separate us from Him anr! from Hii Love. Temptations slid persecutions 
may come, bur nothing car part us from Christ. Prayer is the only 
Way to this glorious cuptriencV* 

These simple words contain the whole of the Sadhu's 
" experimental theology." The wonderful peace which 
he has found in Christ is to him the proof of the truth 
of God's revelation in Christ. The way to this peace 
is through deep and secret prayer. Since this has. led 
him to salvation, he wants to lead all other souls by the 
same road to that blessed goal. No dogma, no authority,, 
whether of Scripture or of the Church, no theological 
speculation can establish this certainty and assurance 
of salvation ; there is no hope in anything save in the 
most personal experience of the individual soul. 

M The fact that Jesus Christ is spoken of in a book, even though it 
be the Bible, is not sufficient proof J this proof must be found in your 
own hearts. In your hearts you must find Him, and then you will under- 
stand that He is your Saviour" " I do not proclaim the Gospel of 
Christ because it is written in a book, but because I know its power 
through, uperk-nce." " Christianity includes many truths which we do 
not understand if we simply J«m about them in books; they only 
become clear when they are eioerienced, Christianity it no book- 
religion, but a religion of life." 

" Religious truths cannot be perceived by the head, but by [he heart." 
" Through the undemanding alone we cannot rind Christ. * , . Hdigiyn 
is a matter of the heart. We roust give ourselves to God, then we shall 
experience His power wid He will reveal Hitmdf to u*." " Spiritual 

U3 



-L- 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

intuition is as delicate as the sense of Lunch; it feels the reality of the 
Presence- oi" Gut) as soon &i it ii touched by Hiia. The sou] cannot 
actounl for this logically, but it reasons thus j [ am perfectly satisfied ; 
such peace can only come from Divine Reality, therefore I have found 
Divine Reality- The heart has its reasons of" which the mind knows 
nothing" 

These words of Sundar Singh recall the anti-i nte! J co 
tual axiom of Pascal : " Le weur a ses raisotrs que la 
raison ne connait pai" Like Luther, he distrusts philo- 
sophy as a means of spiritual enlightenment. 

" Our knowledge of Divine Reality depends upon our inner life, and 
not upon philosophical arguments." "Although Philosophy tries to 
grasp Divine Reality, it does not succeed. No one can grasp Divine 
ftealjiy with the intellect." "Jesus began His war It, not drfioilg philn- 
sophcrs, but with simple fisJieirfoJJi. The world has seen many learned 
men, end many of them it has already forgotten; but these simple men 
who helped Jesus Christ in His work will never be forgoncm** 

Because the experience of the heart is the decisive 
element in the life of faith, therefore the Sadhu recog- 
nises one authority only in the sphere of religion, the 
authority of believing souls, who are in close personal 
touch with God. Neither able philosophers nor learned- 
theologians can help us in the inner life of the spirit. 

u if we want to learn anything about religion wc must turn to those 
who arc "specialists " in this realm, to those who have tested in their 
own experience what religion really mean*. We do not eipea an 
engineer to understand surgery, nor a surgeon to know about mechanics. 
What do theologians and philosophers know about the Divinity of Christ ? 
Go Instead to the ' specialists " in religion, to mystics, prophets, and men 
of prayer." 

This inward experience of salvation which is con- 
summated in the life of prayer is the Alpha and Omega 
of the Sadhu's message. But this inner experience does 
not consist merely in a delightful Sense of liberation ; 
at every point it is both conditioned and upheld by 

'34 



f 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

supernatural Divine Reality. In order to prevent this 
Reality from evaporating in a vague welter of emotion 
the soul needs strong and definite conceptions. There 
is no true and complete religious experience which can 
entirely dispense with clear perceptions. Indeed, the 
concrete perception confirms the reality of that religious 
experience which has already been grasped by the will 
and the emotions. The greater the immediacy and 
Vividness of the inner experience, the stronger is the 
Creative power of the imagination. 

To a large extent Sundar Singh's religious images are 
his own creation ; in some degree, however, he ts 
indebted to the ancient Hindu ScriptureSj e.g. the 
Upanishads, and to contemporary Indian poets like 
Tagore. He himself has a wonderful capacity of 
expressing his spiritual experiences in quite simple and 
yet unusually vivid pictures and parables, which carry 
conviction to others. To borrow SSderblom's striking 
phrase : "To the Sldhu a parable is more than a 
picture or a sudden flash of illumination. His parables 
are not accidental * in his mind they have the stability 
of articles of faith. Indeed, the pictures which he has 
discovered in giving rein to his imaginative powers are 
his theology. . . . His mind works in parables and 
pictures, and each has its appointed place in his message 
of God to man." In any intellectual difficulty the 
Sadhu feels that it is sufficient to find an apt parable 
drawn from everyday life ; in the presence of the vivid 
picture the keen intellect must lay down its arms. 
" When the Sa"dhu has found an apposite picture for a 
spiritual experience,, or for some Christian doctrine, his 
need of explanation is satisfied, Parable takes the place 
of logic. By means of a parable light is thrown upon 
a specific point ; the rest is left in darkness. But this 
does not prevent the Sadhu from teaching something, in 

'35 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

another connection, which, strictly speaking, is left out 
of his picture." In his choice of the parable method 
Sundar Singh resembles the Old Testament Prophets 
and Jesus of Nazareth, as well as the greatest religious 
founder of his own country, Gautama Buddha. They 
;i!l agree in this, that* in order to express and describe 
the mystery of religion, they use the intuitive language 
I of partble and tast aside the conceptual apparatus of 
- philosophical logic. With all of thexn the rejection of 
abstract teaching for the concreteness of the parable is 
conditioned by naive concentration upon personal reli- 
gious experience. The mastery of parabolic speech is 
in its essence the overflow of personal piety with a marked 
anti-intellectual bias. 

Sundar Singh is an outstanding representative of a 
Christianity of personal experience. His basal thought, 
that the essence of the Christian life consists in persona] 
experience, involving a thorough change of heart, con- 
ditions throughout his conceptions of Cod, Christ, 
and the Church. It is interesting to trace this 
bisal idea through the whole range of his religious 
conceptions. 

2, The Conception of God 

Dots iaeffaMJls — this phrase, so much beloved of the 
mystics, characterises Sundar Singh's thoughc of God. 
The stress laid by the Sldhu upon the Inconceivable 
and the Inexpressible in God stamps the S&dhu as an 
ecstatic. When he speaks of the eternal mystery of 
Divine Reality, it is always with the sense of the utter 
impossibility of expressing this Reality in human speech. 
His consciousness of this Divine nppip-ov is at its height 
when he returns to ordinary life from the world of 
ecstasy. 

'36 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

"At times the Lord filled my heart 51 full and spoke such wonderful 
words to mc thai 1 could not possibly speak about them ; no, not eVcll 
If I were to write volumes about them. For these h rarer ]y thing* 
cannot be expressed in heaven]/ language; human speech is quite in- 
capable of expressing them." 

In the opinion of the Sadbu, those Biblical writers 
who received a divine revelation " in the spirit/' t.e. in 
ecstasy, were also painfully conscious that Heavenly 
Reality cannot be expressed in wards. For " God has 
no speech," the Devi abscQnditus neither speaks nor Can 
He be expressed in speech. 

This hidden God, whom no human tongue can. 
express, is an " abyss of love," or, as Sundar Singh 
says in a favourite Indian expression, an *' ocean of love." 

" We say in India ; ' God is a vast ocean of love.' h is in this ocean 
that we ou^it to live. But sin draw* ua away from it. Still, Cod be 
praised tliat Christ can break the net of iin and Jead us back into the 
ocean of God's Love." 

Involuntarily this ocean draws all the currents of 
man's spiritual life into itself. But God docs not only 
draw the human spirit to Himself, He is not only the 
goal of all human longing; in His infinite love He 
longs for the happiness of the beings He has created ; 
love streams out from Him unceasingly ; He bends 
down to men, lavishes kindness upon them and redeems 
them, The God of Neo-PIatonic and of strictly Vedantic 
mysticism is the Source and the Magnet of the Universe, 
the object and the satisfaction of all spiritual longing ; 
but He is not the loving, helpful Redeemer. He needs 
and desires nothing. He is as attractive and as imper- 
sonal as a mountain peak. On the other hand, the 
God of the Christian mystics, as well as of the Hindu 
Bfiakii mystics, is personal Love, who needs to love 
mankind as much as mankind needs to love Him. The 

'37 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

love-relationship between Cod and man is no merely 
one-sided human thing, but a mutual relationship. 
Julian of Norwich says : " Our natural longing is to 
possess God, and it is God's inmost desire to possess 
US." Still more paradoxical is Meister Eckhart's way 
i i Kpreflfitng this thought : " It is much more necessary 
to Him to give to us than it is for us to receive from 
Him.." Sundar Singh has expressed this fundamental 
idea of Christian mysticism very beautifully : 

" God Himself is pleased when we pray. He rejoices in our worship. 
Yes, God and the soul long for each other God needs out prayer, jysi 
a* a. mother doei not feel well if her baby does not tic an her bosom and 
drink. God becomes richer because He gives to us what wc need, just 
as we become richer by giving ourselves and all wc have away to others." 

Perfectly simply, like many n on- Christian and Chris- 
tian mystics, Sundar Singh often uses the image of 
motherhood to describe the Being of God, an idea 
which really expresses very beautifully that double love- 
relationship which exists between God and man. *' God 
is our spiritual mother." 

God is self-giving love ; love is His whole Being ; 
to use a favourite expression of Luther's, " He is nothing 
but sheer love and mercy." 

■" God's love is boundless, for He loves not only the good who believe 
in Him, but the ewii who at present refuse to believe in Him. And 
God's love is selfless ; he who loves Him must also love the brethren 
and be loved by them" 

Sundar Singh's thought of God as Pure Love drives 
the conception of a jealous, watchful, judging and 
revengeful God into the background. The polarisation 
of the Scriptural thought of God between wrath and 
love is absent from his idea of God. The prophets, 
Jesus, and Paul undoubtedly recognise both these 
elements in God ; in Him they see wrath and mercy, 

■38 



I 

angi 



Vtl 



- 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

anger and love — He is both Judge and Saviour, 
Avenger and Paraclete — in the language of the con- 
temporary philosophy of Religion : tmntndxm and fasci- 
msum, " justice and judgment arc the habitation of 
Thy Throne ; mercy and truth shall go before My 
Face," i It is, of course, true that in the New Testament 
writers opytf (wrath) is somewhat less prominent than 
the Divine dyajr^, but it never disappears entirely from 
the Gospel of Love ; even in the Gospel of John we 
find (tira i) opy$> It is not until we reach the First 
Epistle of John that we find that all traces of the idea 
of Divine wrarh have disappeared j here at last we 
reach that profound simplicity which is summed up in 
the phrase " God is Love." In the history of the 
Christian conception of God opy>i and iyanrj are per- 
petually at variance. Along an original line Luther 
strove to effect a reconciliation between these two ideas 
by making a distinction "between God and God," 
which he developed still further by the paradox of a 
" flight from God to God," from the " hidden " to the 
" revealed " God, from an angry God to a forgiving 
Saviour — taking refuge from His justice in His mercy. 
In the mind of Luther this element of consuming 
wrath is no less essential to the Being of God than that 
self-giving, pardoning love which has evoked from him 
such a passion of gratitude. The God who pardons 
sinners is at the same time that majestic Being whose 
transcendent purity condemns and consumes sin. The 
Sadhu has not grasped this polarisation of wrath and 
love as an essential part of the Divine Being and of 
His activity with the same clearness as Luther. It is 
true that sometimes he speaks in his sermons of God's 
judgment and of the Judgment Day. He strikes the 
eschatologica) note over and over again in his addresses ; 

■ Ph. hxtix. 14. . John iii. 3 S. 

■39 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

he also speaks of present judgment : " Indeed, nvy 
friends, there is a Sense in which the Day of the Lord 
has already come,, for even now we are being judged 
in the sight of God." Yet this idea of the judgment 
of God is countered by the thought of the automatic 
judgment of sin, in which the idea of condemnation is 
separated from the Divine Being. With peculiar 
tenacity and energy he has defended his experience of 
God as pure and utter Love against all the objections 
of Christian theologians, 

God's Love is active everywhere, even in hell — so 
the Sadhu was told in ecstasy. It is not God who 
judges, condemns and punishes a sinner ; " It is sin 
itself, which, inevitably results in punishment in the life 
of him who has allowed it to dominate him." 

<L God does not judge sinners ; it is sin which judges them* and 
they must die in their sins. I am often asked; ' If God is Love, how 
can He condemn men ten everlasting punishment?' I always rep]y : 
' Gtid has never sent anyone to hell, and He never will send anyone 
there; it is sin which drives souls into hell.' Think of the fall of Judas 
Iacariul : when he had betrayed the Lord, neither Pi Jute, nor the High 
Priests, nor our dear Saviour, nor the Apostles, hanged him ; he banged 
himself; he committed suicide ; he died in his sins. This is the end 
of any man who lives in sin." " God docs not hate: sinners, but sinner! 
en [heir side love sin and haw Christ." " God punishes no one. He 
condemns no one to hell . . . such .1 thought cannot be reconciled 
with the love of God, which Christ proclaim, and which reveals itself 
in Climbs Sacrifice on the Cross. No, the sinner condemns himself; 
the sjave of lust and of the world condemns hinisc]r tn perdition. A 
man's heart may be in such a condition that it can only feel at home in 
hell — that is, outside the peace of Christ." 

" In North India I ma once staying with a great friend of mine, and 
we talked much about spiritual things. Just then a young nun arrived 
who was to stay a wtci with my friend's son. As soon as he heard our 
conversation he became restless; it was evident that he was feeling 
uneasy. Ke had come for ■ week's, visit, but, after a few niii.i:-:. I e 
asked for a time- table 1 , to see how soon he could Tcrarn home. My 
irieud said : ' What is the matter ? Why I you have scarcely arrived 
and HOW you Want to go ! You Were to be here for a Wecfc) your room 
is ready for you and wc ill welcome you.' For some time the youth 
140 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

was very unwilling to give the true reason, but eventually my friend 
discovered thai that spiritual conversation to which he tad listened for 
i Jew minutes had been most painful to him, and he felt as if a whole 
week of such talk wou3d turn (be house into an Inferno. Within half 
sn hour he was out of the house. So it is with sinners in heaven — 
God is Love and wants to have its in His Presence. How could He 
keep His children away from Him f How could He want to Send thcin 
to hell and leave them there ? It is not God who sends, die sinner in 
hell, it is his own sins. God allows everyone to come to heaven; 
indeed, He invites everyone most earnestly to come in. But sinners 
themselves feel that it is a torture to Stay there ; that is why they do not 
desire it- . . . God does not make their entrance into heaven either 
difficult or impossible, • . . No, it is their own inner attitude which 
makes it impossible for them 10 have any joy in etcmil life." 

Sundar Singh is deeply convinced that it is not God 
who judges a sinner, but his own sin. He supports 
this opinion by quoting the Gospel -of John : 

" I am not corqe to judge the world, but to redeem the World." 
" God did not send His Son into the World to judge the world, but 
that the world should be ivttd through Hjrn." " He who believes 
not, is judged already." 

It is quite true that such passages do appear to 
Support Sundar's departure From orthodox Christian 
opinion. But Canon Streeter has pointed out, very 
truly, that the Sadhu would scarcely have read this 
meaning into the Gospel of John if he had not already, 
without being conscious of it, come under the influence 
of the Indian doctrine of Karma, He rejects unhesi- 
tatingly the primitive Indian doctrine of the trans* 
migration of souls, But the Sadhu holds quite strongly 
and consistently the idea of a purely automatic penalty 
produced by sinful action, an idea which coincides with 
the Indian doctrine of Karma. One of the most 
ancient and fundamental ideas of the Upanishads is 
expressed in the phrases : " TaihAkari yathacari tkata 
bhavati" \ " Tat karma kurme tad obhisampadyate" 
{" As a man lives, as are his actions, so his character 

141 



SADHU sundar stngh 

is formed " ; *' According to his deeds shall it be unto 
him"). And the Taittiriya-Brahimna says still more 
plainly : " Brahma has nothing to do with Karma.'* 
These axioms still affect the Christian Sadhu. It is 
not the Divine Judge who decides man's fate j it 
is his own act. According to an immanent law,, a 
sinful creature cannot do otherwise than remain at a 
distance from God — that is, in hell. In Sundar Singh's 
opinion the judgment of God consists in the fact that 
the sinner sees himself in the light of God's Presence, 
and this light convinces him of his sinful and lost 
condition. In a remarkable way the primitive thought 
of Karma is separated from the Samsdra conception and 
united with Johanninc ideas — a clear example of a 
creative synthesis of Christian and Indian thought. 

The. absence of emphasis on the irememium in his 
thought of God, and his strong emphasis on love in 
the Divine Being, naturally gives a static character to 
the SSdhu's conception of God, The God who knows 
no flaming wrath is the Deus semper quietus of all 
mysticism, Deus irsnquUius tranqittlians omnia: "God 
is rest ; He is restful in all Mis works " \ " He works 
quietly and without disturbance," Because Sundar Singh 
finds his most satisfying experience of God in a state of 
profound peace, therefore he holds that the Eternal God, 
who reveals His Presence to him in this peace, can be 
nothing less than " very rest." That perfect stillness 
which surrounds the Brahma of the Upanishads and 
Constitutes the Buddhist's Nirvina also broods over and 
penetrates Sundar Singh's mystical conception of God. 

3, Th£ Creation 

The Divine Essence is pure Love ; it is this Love 
which moved the infinite God to come forth from the 




_ 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 
fullness of His Glury and Blessedness and bring into 
being a finite, created world. Sundar Singh lays 
renewed stress upon the great Christian idea, to which 
Aquinas gave classical form, that God created the world 
in order that other beings might become partakers of 
His Divine Nature {Intendh solum communkare warn 
perfettiaitcffl, quae est eius botiites)* 

" God's aim in creation is not to mike op for some lacfc in His Being, 
for He is perfect in HbBmK Hl^ imparts life, because it is of the very 
essence of His nature 10 Create. To giv? men real jay through His 
creative Presence is of the very essence of Hil 

The created world is not identical with God ; the 
Sldhu's conception of God is free from that pantheistic 
colour which characterises the cosmology of the Upani- 
shads and of the Vedas. 

" The Indian sccr htf Gotl in Nature s the Christian mystic, on the 
other hand, finis God in Nature. The Hindcl mystic belief that 
God and Nature are one and the same; the Christian Bjyttk kooWl 
that there must be a Creator to account for the universe," 

In spite of this essential difference between God and 
Nature, the Sadhu sees both to be united in indissoluble 
bonds ^ both the visible and the invisible world are a 
reflection of the infinite Being of God. 

" There .ire countless beings in visible and in invisible worlds. Thus 
in countless ways Gcd'e infinite qualities aje reveaied. Each part, 
according to its own capacity, reflects one aspect of the nature of God." 

Like a PJatonist, the Sadhu sees in the visible world 
a " copy of the invisible world," " the revelation of the 
spiritual world in material form." But he completes 
this Platonic conception by the Christian idea of revela- 
tion. He does not hesitate to draw a parallel between 
Nature and Holy Scripture. 

This belief in the revelation of God in the natural 

H3 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

order gives to the Sadhu that intense love of Nature 
which we find in so many Christian and non-Christian 
mystics. The numerous parables which he draws from 
natural life arc a proof of the tove with which he 
observes Nature, and of the way in which he Uvea in 
contact with it. 

Especially tender is the tie which binds him to the 
animal world. Like Francis of Assist and other Christ- 
ian mystics, even in the life of animals he sees the reflex 
of the Divine Love. Once when he was in Switzerland 
n cat nestled confidingly on his lap ; he welconud ir 
tenderly, saying : " If the love of such a little creature 
is so great, how much greater must be the love of the 
Creator." Because even animals reveal the love of 
God, they also are God's children, the little brothers 
and sisters of mankind. 

" St Frauds UStd to preach In the bird* and the animals and Id Call 
them his brothers and listers. And vniy they are our broihera and 
sisters, for; they have received the gift of life from the same Giver." 

Yet wonderful as is God's revelation in Nature, to 
him, as to all mystics, the revelation of God m the 
depths of the human soul is something infinitely greater. 

" One day 1 found a flower, and I began lo reflect on its fragrance 
and its beauty- As I brooded over thj», I saw the hidden mystery of 
tke Creator behind His creation. This filled me with joy. But my 
joy was still greater when I found Him at wori within my own soul." 

In the thought of the Sadhu man Is a microcosm, a 
reflection of the macrocosm ; he » therefore the highest 
form of God's revelation. Man alone is able to behold 
God's revelation in Nature, the mirror of His infinite 
perfection* 

"Man is part of the universe; he is a miner in which this 
J5 reflected. Therefore both the visible and the invisible creation arc 

"44 



I 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

reflected within him. In this world he is the one being who can under- 
stand [he visible creation. He is, as it were, the language of Nature. 
Nature «peats. but without words. Man ciprcsSes these inarticulate 
murmurs of Nature hi hunaan speech," 

So creation is a kind of ladder by which men rise 
to an ever clearer vision of the perfection, the beauty, 
and the love of God. Sundar Singh would endorse the 
words of St, Eunaventura : 



"A1J created thing? lead the reflective and contemplative toul to the 
Eternal God, for they arc the outer court of His Ternp[c of Creation, 
filled with echoes, pictures, and living representations of the Divine 
activity." 

4. The Living Christ 

God reveals Himself through the whole of the visible 

and invisible world. And yet the God of revelation is 
always the invisible God. No one, not even the glorified 
in heaven, can see this invisible God as fie is. Through 
all eternity He is invisible. 

" When. ] entered heaven for the first time I looked all round me 
and then I asked : ' Where h God ? ' and they answered and said unto 
me ; ' God is sect) here as little as on earth, for God is infinite. But 
Christ h here, He i; the image of the Invisible God, and onlj b Him 
can anyone see God, either here or upon earth.' " 

In this experience of ecstasy the mysterious relation- 
ship between the God who is " most hidden and most 
manifest " is wonderfully expressed. " No man has 
Seen God at any time ; the only begotten Son, who IS 
in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him/' 
In Christ, the personal Saviour, the Redeemer who has 
become man, we are able to grasp this deep mystery of 
eternal Love. In Christ the Infinite comes down to 
the level of Mis needy creature ; in Him He turns His 
Face towards seeking humanity, and this Face is a 
* Hi 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

human face full, of gentleness and kindness, glorified 
I., iv, by 8 smile of love. This Face which, to use a 
wonderful expression of Luther's, is " a Mirror of the 
Father's Mercy," the Sadhu saw with his bodily eyes 
in a vision at his conversion, and he sees It with his 
Spiritual eyes whenever he is allowed to enter heaven 
jn the experience of ecstasy. Only in and through 
Christ, and never apart from Him, does the Sadhu 
find possible any experience of God, any knowledge of 
God, any sight of God and of His love. The know- 
ledge of God through Nature also is only possible 
through the indwelling of Christ the Logos in the soul. 
God is in Christ, God is Christ, and Christ is God, 
" all in all." " Christ is my Redeemer, He is my 
Life, He Is all to me in heaven and upon earth." 
Sundar Singh's piety is Christocentric through and 
through. Again and again we are reminded of Martin 
Luther, who, with the same decision (although often 
wich polemical vigour), defends the idea that faith in 
God and faith in Christ are identical. 

" We do not blow God apart from Christ." God is Lave only when 
"we sec Him in the Person of Christ." "He has revealed Himself 
nowhere excepting in Him, in such a way that wc can ace His Henri and 
Hi:, Will " " lit no one persuade thee that thou Kimst Ind God any- 
where save in the Lard Chrisi, and see that thou have no other thoughts 
but Hini. . . . Shut thine eyes and say: 'J will know no other God 
w^e my Lord Chrisi," " 

A finite creature cannot behold the eternal God face 
to face without being destroyed in this fiery sea of 
power and glory ; he cannot see and understand the 
infinite God in " His naked majesty." That is why 
God clothed Himself with a human form, showed 
Himself in human guise, took upon Himself the likeness 
of man. Christ speaks to the Sadhu, who is " sitting 
at the Master's Feet " : 

i + 6 




L 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

" In order to guide men into the tight way I could find no better 
mean) for ray revelation than for the sate of man to become roan, in 
older lli.it man might understand that God is not a Strange, terrible 
Power, but that He is Love, and that He is like man who was created 
in Hia image." " Man has a naiura] longing to see Gods wc desire 
lu See Him whom we try to honour ; He alone h infinite. I asked the 
heathen ; ' Why do you worship these idob F * They replied : ' God 
is infinite, and these images are only to help Ui to Collect out though ta. 
With the help of these symbols we can worship, we can understand n 
IikIi- ' We would like to speak with Him we Jove; wc long to sec 
Him. The difficulty is this : we human creatures cannot see Him, 
because He is infinite. If we could become infinite we could see Hira. 
Here and now we are incapable of seeing Him, our Creator, our Father, 
the Giver of Life, That is why He became Qc3h j He toot a human, 
limited form in order that men might thua be able to behold Him. 1 " 



Once again this experience of the Sidhu is illuminated 
by Luther's Christological declarations, which are closely 
related to the thoughts of the medieval mystics, especially 
to those of Suso. The eternal Divine Substance — which 
Luther calls the Deus absolutes, the Deus nudus, the 
Deus a-fa&mds&i — is entirely invisible and inaccessible 
by the human spirit. " God dwells in Light unap- 
proachable." Between the Divine Essence and human 
nature is an impassable gulf, The soul that attempts 
to know God in its own strength is shattered by the 
terrible glory of the vision. By his own efforts sinful 
man can never find his way to tht? Eternal God, But 
God's inmost essence is pure friendliness and mercy ; 
and God desires that man should look right into His 
Heart. So He adapts Himself to man's comprehension ; 
He comes down from heaven, veils Himself in a modest 
iuvo/ucrum, offers Himself in a. simple parable (simiJiiudo), 
places before man an image of Himself {imago sut), gives 
him a symbolum of His incomprehensible wisdom and 
love, a shelter {itmbraailwn) which shields him from the 
burning rays of the Divine midday Sun. The Deus 
nudu! thus becomes the Deus involutes, the Deus ahsdusus 

1+7 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

gives place to the Dots incamatui^ the Dtiti abscanditus to 
the Deus rcvelattts. 

Upon this homely veil, through which Cod reveals 
Himself — upon the Son of the Virgin lying in a manger,, 
upon die Man of Sorrows hanging upon the Cross — 
must the man who is seeking God fasten his gaze, for 
in these pictures (imagines), in these " Symbols " (as 
Luther distinctly says), " man finds the God whom he 
can bear, One who comforts him, restores him, and 
redeems him." Thus it is the Incarnate Son of God 
M who paints for us the Father's heart and will " {pingit). 
"He is that veil (Jnvolucrum ') beneath which the Divine 
Majesty offers Himself with all His gifts, that every 
poor sinner may dare to approach Him in the certainty 
of finding God." 

" The mystery of the God-Man," of the " Incarnate 
God," of whom Luther has given such a clear theo- 
logical presentation, is expressed by Sundar Singh in a 
series of vivid parables, which form his apologetic For 
the Christian dogma of the Incarnation. 

" Sonic years ago J saw how a simple countryman wm being shown a 
red glass bottle filled with milk. They anted him what was in the bottle. 
He said : * Wine, brand/, wHifcy." He could not believe that it was 
filled with, milk until he saw the milt being poured out from it, boanue 
he could rial see the white colour of the milt owing to the redness of 
the glass. ... So it is with thy Person of the Saviour, He became 
Man and Hia Godhead was hidden in His Humanity. People saw Him 
tired, hungry and thirst)/, and tfcey said ; l If He is God, why \% He 
tired, hungry and thirsty, and why does He pray to God ? * They 
saw only His human side, and could not believe that He mi rcalli 
Divine. But those who followed Him and lived with Him knew that 
He Was more than human and that He was God." 

'* Some years ago in Tibet I heard a story aho-m a King who wished 
to send a message to his people. He entrusted the errand 1 to his servants, 
but they Would not do aa he wished. The King, who W«l his subjects, 
now resolved to late the message to them himself in order to be convinced 
uf their difficulties, He could not go there as a ting, for he wanted 



i Lit. 



■rapprr, covering cast, 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

hifl subjects to ipeat to him freely of all their sufferings and distresses. 
So he changed hii garments, left off" hi* royal robes, and dressed himself 
liiea poor num. Then he went right among his people and said to them : 
4 1 have been sent by the King in order to learn about all your difficulties.' 
The poor and the distressed had confidence in him and told him all their 
Wriaafft, and he aaw how he could help them. But there were also 
some proud people who could not bring themselves to believe that such 
a poor man was really the King's messenger, so they were rude to him 
and chased him away. Later on the King came to his subjects at the 
head of hi! army in all his rajflj state, and the people could hardly recognise 
him again nor believe rhat it was the same person, Tltey said : ' Then 
he Was a poor man and now he is King.' The proud who had despised 
him were punished and thrown into prison, but those who had been good 
to him were honoured and rhcir wants relieved. Even so is it with 
the Word 0/ Life who became mail ; His people did not sec His Glory, 
and they crucified Him, But the days are coming when we shall see 
Him in His Glory, and we shall know that He is the same Jesus Christ 
who lived lite a poor man for thrcc-arid-thirty years upon this earth," 

Belief in the Incarnation is not difficult far Sundar 
Singh. The Hindu faith in the various kinds of 
avatara (descents) of a Saviour-deity, and also the 
faith in the divinity of the Guru, which is especially 
emphasised in the Sikh religion, was indeed a prepara- 
tion for the full Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. 
That which was trigs t abhgrrent to him during the 
critical period which preceded his conversion was the 
Christian message of the Saviour's sacrificial death upon 
Golgotha, 

" As long is I was a Hindu I could not understand how it was possible 
fur God to give lite through the death of Christ." "The message ot 
ttu Cri!.-:- Mm EbdlilZuteH to my understanding." " BtM as I learnt, to 
know the Love of God, and as this love streamed into my heart, then 
my understanding was opened." 

That Sundar Singh regards the Death of Jesus as a 
real atonement is shown very clearly in an address he 
gave in South India. 

"Christ reconciled us 10 Gnt\ ; on the Cress one Hand was uplifted 
towards Cod ; this bleeding Hand showed that the satisfaction wis 

149 



> 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

complete, and through the blood the atonement. The other Hand 
was stretched out towards sinners and declared that now men could 
draw near to God, Both Hinds proclaimed [lie- same thing. . . . Since 
thi.* reconciliation or atonement has been competed there is no mote 
separation from God.." 

For the Sftdhiij however, the deepest mystery of the 
death of Christ upon the Cross does not consist in 
substitutionary atonement, but in the revelation of that 
Divine love which gives itself completely to man. 

" Christ knew that neither silver nor gold, nor diamonds nor any other 
jewels, would suffice to procure life to the soul, hut that what was needed 
was tlit; surrender of life for life, the surrender of soul in order to save 
the suuls of men. That is why Ho gave His life for die redemption of 
the world. 1 * " Christ cnRlc in order to reveal the true boundless love 
of the Father which had been hidden from all eternity, 81101 through the 
sorrender of His life to save ail souls,, not only the souls of the good, hut 
especially of sinners. Further, He came to show through His Death 
and Resurrection thai what the world considers red death ia not death 
at all, but the fountain of Life." 

Once more vivid stories and parables help the SSdhu 
to understand this unfathomable love of God. 

** Some time ago I saw in the Himalayas two villages which wcie 
separated from eaeh other by a high and impassable mountain, A3, the 
crow flics, the distance between the [wo villages was not great, but as 
traveller* had to go right round the mountain the journey used to lake 
a whole week. A man who iived in one of these villages got the idea 
that if it was impossible to make a path ever the mountain one must be 
made through it. He resolved to risk Ids bfc in Carrying out the idea. 
- - . He started the wort, but shortly before the tunnel was completed 
he was killed. He sacrificed his Hfc in the endeavour to unite the two 
villages. This made me think of the wall of partition made by sin which 
Separates man Irom God, and this story seemed to me a parable showing 
how Jesus Christ had made a way through the mountain of sin by giving 
up His life for us." 

" Several year* ago I was travelling In Bhutan in the Himalayas. I 
spoke to the people about Jesus Christ, and kid stress on. the fact that 
our salvation depended upon His death, the death which Ho suffered 
for us. Many of thtni said : ' It is unthinkable that through the death 
of one many can be saved.* But a certain young man said : * No, it is 
both possible and true; I can say that because I have experienced * l 

150 



[ 



IL 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

myself.' [ thought he m a Christian, beat he knew nothing of Christ. 
1 asked him about hia experience, upon which he told me the following 
story : ' Three months ago J was travelling in the mountains when 
suddenly 1 fell down the mountain side, I was- so much injured that I 
almost blud to death, My father carried mc to a doctor, who, after a 
careful examination, declared that he could do nothing for rnc. " If 
his bones Were broken," he said, " I could do something for him. If 
he had an illness I could give htm medicine. But he has kit his blood. 
The life of the body h in. the blood { if we lose our blood we lose our 
life ; I cannot give the patient any blood, so I cannot help htm." When 
my father asked if there were nothing at all to be done for me, he said 
at last: " Ves, if there were someone who. WRS willing i..i give his blood — - 
that is, some of it — for him, 1 could save him." My father, who loved 
me wonderfully, said at once that he vnu ready to do this. A rein wti 
opened and my iathcra blood flowed into my body. But as my father 
was an old man, the operation was too much for his strength ; he was 
so exhausted that he died, but I was saved. So,* said the young man 
as lie finished his talc, 4 my lather died for inc. Because he loved me 
beyond measure he gave his life for me.' I was then able to explain 
to liint the meaning of the death of Christ on the basis of this experience. 
'Just as you fell down from the mountain,' I observed, 'and through 
your injuries loat your blood, ao we fell by our sin from the heights of 
communion with God and lost our true life, which is Spiritual. But 
Christ died for us on the Cross, He poured out His blood for us " whose 
souls, condemned and dying, were precious in His sight," Those who 
believe in Hirh know from their own experience that Christ came into 
the world to save sinners.' ™ 

" Once when I was. travelling about in the Himalayas J saw something 
which made the love of God very real to mc. In a Tibetan village I 
noticed a crowd of people standing nodet a burning tree and kwkjna up 
into the branches, 1 came near and discovered in die banchci > bird 
which was anxiously Hying round a ncut full of young ones* The mother- 
bird wanted to save her litde ones, but she could not. When ilie Ere 
reached the nest the people waited breathlessly to See what she Would do. 
No one could climb the tree, no one could help her. Now she could easily 
have saved her own life hv flight, but instead of fleeing she sat down 
on the nest, coveting the little ones carefully with her wings. The fire 
Seized her and burnt her to ashes. She showed her love to her little 
ones by giving her life for thera. If t then, this little insignificant, creature 
had such love, how much more must our Heavenly Father Jove His 
children, the Creator lave Hia creatures 1 " 

The Cross of Christ stands before the eyes of Sundar 
Singh as the supreme revelation of the Divine Love. 
But this revelation of love is in no wise limited to 

15' 



SADHU 5UNDAR SLNGH 
Christ's death upon Golgotha ; it takes in the whole 
of Christ's life, from the birth in Bethlehem to the last 
prayer upon the Cross. " Tola vita CAfisti trux fait ft 
martyrlum " — this deep thought of the Imitatio Chrisli 
appears again and again in the .Sadhu's thought. 

" Christ hung thirty -three years upon the cross." Christ speab to 
the Sadhu in ecstasy : " When E became man and took upon Myself 
the heavy cross far Uic redemption of mankind I carried it not only 
during the six hours of my Crucifixion, or during the three year* of My 
public ministry, but during the whole thirty-three years of My Jiff." 

According to the peculiar conception of the SSdhu 
this lifelong suffering of Christ was due to the fact 
that He, the eternal Son of God, had to live in an 
essentially strange world, in the impure atmosphere 
of sin. 

Christ speak? : ** As it is dinicujt fur a clean person to spend even a 
few moments in b dirty, evil-smelling plaice, so for those who live in 
■communion with ,\lc it h extremely repugnant to have to live among 
sinful men. Think, then, how hard and painful it wit for Me, who 
am Holy, and the tourer of Holiness, to have to live more than thirty-three 
years among sinners. It is beyond human understanding to grasp this." 

Sundar Singh sets the utmost height of suffering in 
Christ's desolation upon the Cross,, which, unlike many 
Christian thinkers, he does not attempt to explain away, 
hut takes quite literally. 

™ Not only the world forsook our dear Lord, but at the time of Hi; 
death His heavenly Father left Him alone too, in order that He ill i flit 
win for u« the victory upon tht Cnm." 

To the SSdhu, Jesus Christ is Redeemer and Mediator, 
in the true sense of the word. He has definitely 
rejected the conception of liberal theology, according 
CO which Jesus of Nazareth preached a Gospel without 
a mediator and taught the direct access of the human 
soul to the Father, 

i Si 



I 

i 



_ 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

Neither Greet nor Indian philosophy has taught lis anything about 
DUX heavenly Father. Buddha, who was a great teacher, never men- 
tioned tie Father. Therefore it is foolish to tty that men can find God 
without Christ. 1 " 

The parable of the Prodigal Son, which is the 
favourite argument of modern theology against the 
traditional doctrine of redemption, is to the 5-Adbu a 
proof of the necessity of a mediator. Paul Wernle says 
very decidedly (and from the purely historical stand- 
point possibly he is right) : " In the parable of the 
Prodigal Son there is neither mediator nor atonement ; 
in the Lord's Prayer in the petition for forgiveness 
neither ' in the name of Jesus * nor * for the sake of 
the blood ' ; he who adds this element destroys the 
primitive purity of the message. . . . The hunger for 
objective guarantees to which the soul can cling is far 
from Jesus. He always gives us something far better, 
God Himself, as Father* immediately laid hold of and 
held fast," In 3 remarkable way the Sidhu tries to 
parry this attack with the parable itself. Even if his 
exegesis is historically dubious, it is still very suggestive, 
and for the systematic treatment of the question it is 
significant. 

" One day a paitor came to me and said ; * Think about the parable 
of the Prodigal Son. He needed no mediator, no redeemer. He went 
direct to the Father.* Then 1 said to him : * You must notice that the 
Prodigal Son rai already in union with Lis father? it was not so very 
long since he had gone away from the father. He knew the way back, 
for he had lived with his father before. Therefore he needed no one to 
show him the way home. This parable applies to Christians. It is 
quite possible that some of them become Careless in their spiritual life, 
■nd for a time are out of touch with the Lord, but they know the way 
back. The parable doei not refer to the heathen, nor to the many 
nominal Christians, who do not know the way to the Fatter. 1 " 

(The weakness of this exposition lies in this : it 
misses the main point of the parable, and puts the 

'53 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

emphasis upon an unimportant detail. The decisive 
thing in the parable — and it is a parable,, not an alle- 
gorical 1 narrative— is not the fact that the son found 
his way home, but the joyful welcome which he received, 
and the way in which he was honoured before the elder 
son who stayed at home and did his duty.) 

Christ's lift- upon earth is for the Sadhu an absolute 
historical reality. His birth in the stable at Bethlehem, 
His wanderings through Palestine, His death on 
Golgotha, are to him facts in the complete literal sense. 
To relegate the " Story of salvation " to the psycho- 
logical and metaphysical realm, as we know so many 
Christian mystics do v is quite foreign to him. The 
Jesus of Nazareth who wandered about the land of 
Palestine is identical with the Eternal Son of God and 
Saviour who appeared to him at his conversion, and 
in whose heaven he is allowed to spend hours of 
ecstasy again and again. The intensity with which he 
longed to visit the homeland of Jesus, and the deep 
love which filled him when he actually stood at the 
Hoiy Places* show how entirely naive is the faith of 
the Sildhu, completely unaffected by problems of Biblical 
criticism. His heart beat faster when he realised that 
the same Saviour with whom he is in such close touch 
through prayer had trodden these very fields during 
the time of His earthly pilgrimage. 

But in spite of this childlike faith which never dreams 
of loosening or breaking the connection between the 
Historical Jesus and the Eternal Christj the Sadhu is 
free from that crude realism which characterises the 
" religious-historical " theories of so many present-day 
theologians. This is shown by his tender spiritual 
conception of the Sacrificial Death of Christ, which is 
in strong contrast to the crude Blood-theology of so 
many Western Christians. Sundar Singh does not 

'54 



I 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

hesitate to speak of " the spiritual eternal blood of 
Christ M which alone possesses redeeming power. 

" In answer to the pointed question at a. Swiss theologian : ' Haw do 
you explain; the verse T)it Bfwtf 9/ Jews Christ cltaxsah mtjrm ail sin i 
the Sadhu answered". " I" the spiritual sense. This cleansing can only 
taJte place through faith. . . . Everything depends upon faith. It is 
not the wood of the CroSi which has Wonderful power » heal from iifi, 
but what happens is like the story of the brazen serpent: three who 
looked up to it were healed and those who despised it and denied its 
power died. Everything depends upon obtdience and taith. Cleansing 
from sin is the answer 1.0 the faith of those who loot up to the Redeemer 
on the Crosa.' To Canon Btreeter Sundar Singh said : " The Atone- 
ment and the Blood which washes us from our sins means that we are 
grafted into Christ, I in Him and He in inc. The branch which is 
ggafked iota the tree h bitter, but once it is ingrafted the sweet sap of the 
tree flows into the branch, and makes it sweet." 

Still more important than this spiritual tendency of 
the SAdhi] is rfw Uict that his. faith in Christ swings 
equally between the two poles of the complete idea of 
Christ : the Christ of History in the past and the 
Living Christ in the present day. Once in time God 
became man ; He broke through into space and time 
in a single human personality, veiled in humble human 
form, in Jesus of Nazareth. But this Jesus of Nazareth 
does not belong to the past ; no, as the Living Christ 
He is unceasingly conveying divine power and love to 
sinful human souls. " Christ lives actually amongst 
us, just as He did more than nineteen hundred 
years ago." The revelation of the Living Christ, not 
the story of the Hi storical Jesus, made the Sldhu 
His disciple. 

" Whet people ask me, ' What made you a Christian ? ' I can only 
say : ' Christ Himself made roc a Christian.* When He revealed Himself 
to me I saw His glory and was convinced that He was die Living Christ."* 
" I do not believe in Jesus Christ because i have read about Him in the 
Bible — I hw Him and experienced Him and know Him in my daily 
experience." ** Not because ] read the Gospels, but because of Him 

15s 



SADHU SUNDAH SINGH 

f read in the Gospels, have I became wJui I am.*' ** ill ready 
before my conversion 1 laved His reaching ; it is beautiful. Bui my 
doubts were not swept away umiJ ] became imt thai Christ was ulivc." 

From his own personal experience the Sadhu never 
tires of emphasising the truth that Christ is no mere 
historical personality of whom the New Testament telis 
us, but "a living reality, which must be experienced," 
a continually operative power which must grip the 
heart of man. " To be a Christian means to receive 
Christ into one's soul." "The Bible tells us about 
Jesus Christ, but He does not live in these pages but in 
our hearts.*' Just because the decisive element is 
contact with the living Christ, the " plan of salvation " 
can never be of the essence of the Christian Faith. It 
is not the knowledge of certain historical facts which 
bads to inward fellowship with Christ, but it is the 
other way round : heart-fellowship with Christ is the 
indispensable preliminary to a right understanding of 
the plan of salvation, " Christianity is founded upon 
the Living Christ, who is ever with us." 

"Of course one has to know the Bible. I love die Bible, for ii is 
that which has led me to the Saviour, to the Saviour who h Independent 
erf hi |t ■■j r >'. F« history iclls of time, but Christ speaks to us of Eternity. 
. . . From the standpoint of history it is important to know the Bible. 
But even if the Bible were to disappear no one could take away my peace ; 
I would still have my Christ. The Bible has taught me much about 
Christ. The great historical fact is Christ Himself," 

In answer to the question, " In what sense do you 
understand the Resurrection ? Do you regard it as a 
fact which took place two thousand years ago, or as 
something which still has a meaning for each one of 
us ? " the Sadhu replied : " It is a living fact. If 
Christ did not die, and if He Were not now alive, 
Christianity could offer nothing to the world of any 

156 



I 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

more value than other religions. It is the Living 
Christ wha makes Christianity," 

M An Indian Christian who had travelled a great ded said mice i ' I 
saw the grave of Mohammed. It was magnificent, adorned with 
diamonds and other jewels. And people told me : " Here rest the 
bones of Mohammed." I saw Napoleon's grave, and they told me ; 
" Here rest the bancs of Napoleon." But when 1 saw the tomb of 
Christ it v/at empty; there were no bones therein.* Christ is the living 
Christ. The Holy Sepulchre has stood empty for nearly two thousand 
years. My heart too stands open to the Lord. He lives in me ; He 
is the Living Christ because He goes on living in the lives of Christians. 
True Christians are not those who say they are Christians, but those 
who possess Christ." 

" Many Christians arc like Mary, who loved! Jesus and who went 
to see Hun in His grave when He was already risen from the dead. She 
loved Jesus with her whole heart, and yet, when she n.w Him outside 
the tomb, she die! not recognise Him. Her sight was blinded by tesrs ; 
it was as though there were a mist before her eyes which prevented her 
from seeing Him, It is the same with many Chmiiaiu ;. they love 
Jesus without seeing in Him the Saviour who is risen from the dead, 
the Living Christ. They cannot see Him on account of the mists of 
sin and error s their eyes are blinded with tears of sorrow. But when 
they open their hearts to Christ, then they recognise Him," 

In this emphasis on the eternal aspect of the whole 
story of redemption the Sadhu is once more in line 
with Luther. Luther never tires of impressing the 
truth that the Divine Act of Redemption is an eternal 
deed, " an everlasting Now," not a mere historical fact, 
but Something which " from all eternity was operative 
in tlu- secret counsel of Cod," that from all eternity, 
"before the foundation of the world," Christ is the 
Lamb who has been slain for the sins of the world. 

Sundar Singh says : 

" Gold, silver and diamonds, were hidden in die earth long before 
anyone knew of their existence. So the fathomless mine of the Divine 
Love existed long before JeSUS, the Incarnate LoVc, revealed to the World 
the ' unspeakable riches ' of the Divine Reality," 

To Luther, Redemption is an eternal, inwardly Divine 
Fact which only becomes *' visible " through the his- 

IS7 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

torical facts of the Birth, Death and Resurrection of 
Christ, and, to use his own words, " It is not simply a 
sweet song of a story of things which happened fifteen 
hundred years ago, but ... it is a present and a love- 
gift which remains for ever." 

Sundar Singh, however, goes further than this. Like 
many Christian mystics, he regards the working of Christ 
in the individual human soul as on a higher plane than 
His activity during His appearance upon earth. Not 
history, but the deep inward life,, is Christ's peculiar 
sphere of revelation, His most sacred sphere of activity. 
u The heart is the throne of the King of Kings." 

In ecstasy Sundar Singh heard the word of Christ : " The womb 
of the Virgin in which in human .form I spent many months w«s not so 
sacred a spot as the heart of the believer in which I have My dwelling 
for ever and which I nuke a heaven." 

We are reminded here of similar thoughts of medieval 
mystics which arc re-echoed in Luther's Christmas 
Sermons, 

Meistcr Ecihart writes; "The birth of the Divine in a virgin or 
pure soul is worth more to God than the actual birth at Bethlehem." 
Luther says : " The Babe shall be more thine than He m the Son of Mary," 
" For if He were bom a thousand times, yea and hundreds of thousands 
of tifDefl and Were not com in US, it Would profit us nothing." 

This effort to pass from the historical facts of redemp- 
tion into the Sphere of immediate, personal assurance 
does not imply that we explain the historical facts in a 
purely subjective sense j still less does it imply a detiial 
of their objective reality j it means rather the attempt 
to ascend from the level of mere intellectual assent to 
that of inmost personal inner experience, from the past 
to the immediate present, from the sphere of space and 
time to that of eternal Divine Reality. 

Christ lives and works eternally ; but this eternal 

.58 







THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

Christ is none other than He who walked this earth. 
In a beautiful passage the Sadhu expresses the age-long 
Christian conviction that "Jesus Christ is the same 
yesterday, to-day, and for ever." 

Christ speaks : " With the same finger with which ] wrote the con- 
demnution of Bcishazmr upon the wall, J wrote upon the ground the 
hidden sins of those men who, blind to their own sfri, would have con- 
demned the woman whom they caught in the act of adultery, jo that 
one by one they crept quietly away feeling ashamed and guilty. With 
the same finger 1 still show My servants in the stillness of tlitir own 
hearts the wounds made by their sins. And with the same finger 1 heal 
them when they repent. With the same finger I will lead My children 
out of this world into the other, into their home of rest nnd etem.it peace, 
and they will cling to Me as little children cling to their father's hand 
wherever be goes.*' 

In all his public work Sundar Singh lays great stress 
upon the Deity rjf Christ : faith in the Living Christ 
as Saviour and Lord ; and the reason for this is clear. 
Compared with personal spiritual contact with an eternal 
Divine Saviour, admiration for the human Jesus as a 
religious Teacher and a moral Example seems something 
very poor and meagre. When he was in Europe, 
therefore, the Sadhu did not hesitate to criticise quite 
freely that modern rationalistic conception of Jesus as 
an ethicai teacher which threatens to sweep away the 
essential character of the Christian religion ; indeed, 
he threw the whole weight of his personal experience of 
Christ into the scales against it* 

Tflen! arc many people who never come into personal contact with 
Christ at all/ 1 ' and " who ncwr enjoy the unspeakable preciousness of 
personal communion and friendship with Him ; they Imow Christ only 
from theology aw from (he standpoint of history." "Therefore they 
can only regard Him as a holy man, a moral leather of great eloquence 
and magnetism, or perhaps as an outstanding religious geruus." " They 
know Him as die good Master, they honour His beautiful character 
and His purity ; bur ihey cannot believe in His Divinity. They cannot 
lee in Him the Divine Redeemer. Ent to thoje who desire it and ash 
for it God will pnj the power to «e this truth." 

'59 



SADHO SUNDAR SINGH 

" Christ did no: eome to teach us* bo! to redeem tia from tin and 
punishment. Simply by Hi* teaching He could not have redeemed 
sinners i He had to lay down His life." " Christ does no: only speak 
of spiritual gifts, He gives liiexn lo us," " He did not merely teach 
Love j He completed His teaching b> laying down His life." " Christ 
does not so much desire to be WB example, ss 10 live in u&j He wants to 
be in us the source of a new life." " It is not true to say t as some do ; 
Christ is only a great man, a prophet. He cannot help lis, No, He is 
onj- Saviour who is with us till the end of the world- We can say : He 
saves suiters both ftotn within arid from without, Irom within by giving 
us a new life, from without because He protects us and defend* us, and 
Ki last leads us into our heavenly home." w A merely great man could 
never say : ' I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. 1 
Christ alone could say that ; He came down from heaven i He is not 
far away ; He is with US." " Ask those who live with Him who JestiS 
Christ is. The Living Christ has so wonderfully changed the whole tone 
of their lives that even upon earth they Me already io heaven." 

" The Deity of Christ and Redemption are absolutely fundamental 
truths. Without thtin Christianity has no message let! : it ts then no 
more than a system of ethics like Buddhism. Vou cannqt find a better 
moral character than Buddha, yet his soul was never salisScd." " I 
have studied Hinduism j I believe that if we receive Christ*s outward 
person only, and reject His innermost being — His Deity — our Christ- 
ianity will be no better than. Hinduism, Vou can call it what you will — 
rationalism, New Theology, New Religion — it is useless, it is worse than 
liv-nlLL-nUm." 

Like all great Christian personalities, Sundar Singh 
is a passionate defender of the Deity of Christ. The 
way in which he defends this central truth of Chris- 
tianity brings him once more very near to Luther. 
The Utter can never express too strongly his conviction 
that Christ is the Saviour-Cod from when] come for- 
giveness and salvation ; He is therefore no mere human 
example for external imitation, "This is why," says 
Luther, "those who attack and deny the Deity of 
Christ lose the whole of Christianity and become no 
better than Turks and heathen," 

But Sundar Singh's " Christ ological " ideas differ 
from Luther's Christology in the stress he lays upon 
communion with Christ through prayer. The word of 

i(jo 







THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

Scripture is not enough ; the Bible alone can lead no 
one to faith in Christ, Guru Nftnak has said : " The 
paqdisa (the learned) read the purana (the holy writings), 
but they do nut know how to find God in their own 
hearts." Sundar Singh says the same thing about 
many Christians in their relation to the Bible : " Many 
Christians cannot find Christ's precious life-giving 
Presence as a reality, because Christ lives only in their 
heads or in their Bibles, and not in their hearts." Only 
he who receives Christ into his heart in prayer can 
become really convinced of His Divinity. Only he 
who has come into living touch with Christ through 
prayer, and experienced something of His mercy and 
His power, and who knows Him " personally " — he 
alone is in a position to believe that tbu Saviour is the 
same as the Man who once lived and suffered in 
Palestine, 

" Al] those who live with Him in prayer know thai He is the Incarnate 
God who came into the world to save sinners." ** No one can under- 
stand who Jesus Christ is save those who life with Him. Only when 
We live with Him in real communion can He show hi i in self to us." 
"There is a great difference between those who know something about 
Him and those who know Him for themselves," "To know about 
things which have same relation to Christ is useless ; we must know Him 
Himself. We can understand; what people say about Him in bocks, 
but we can only learn to know Him personally through prayer, I also 
knew things about Him, but that was all no good. Only when I began 
to pray did He reveal Himself to me." 1 

Christ speaks: ** It you taili with a man who has been bom blind 
about different colours — red, blue, yellow, aid their variation? — lit: has 
no conception of their glory and beamy, and he is quite unable to s-ahie 
them, tor he only knows about them ; he knows their different names, 
it IS true, but he Call sever have a true idea of the various colours until 
his eyes are opened- In fact,, the colours are quite remote trom his 
experience. Even so U it with the eyes of the spirit- A man may be 
as learned a possible : but until he lias received his spiritual sight he 
cannot know Me, nor see My glory, nor understand that I am the 
Incarnate Odd-" 

" With our eyes wt can mc many things ; we can s« the drop 1 * m bid) 

L l6l 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

are used to heal our eyes ; they are in a glass. But when they have been 
put info our eyes we sec them no longer. We feel that they have done 
Hi good, but we see them no more- So a person can say : I have medicine 
in mv eyes jnd ennnot see it. When Christ was in Palestine in human 
form many people saw Him ; but to-day when He live* in our hearts 
we cannot see Him. Lite a medicine He cleanses our spiritual faculty 
of sight from every kind of sin. Although we cannot sec Him, He 
redeems ui ; we know this, for we feel God's Presence in our lives. We 
cannot say that we feel this with the bodily senses ; this consciousness 
is no emotion, no agitation; when I say failing \ mean that wu become 
aware of Christ's Presence in a teal and inward way." 

Thus, faith in the Divinity of Christ grows out of 
the immediate experience of the heart. He who has 
learnt to be at home with the eternal Saviour in prayer, 
he who has been allowed to behold the loving human 
Face of Christ in prayer, is in a position to affirm this 
tremendous paradox : that the eternal Saviour-God, 
the Redeemer of the soul of man, descended from His 
infinite abode into the finite realm of time and space. 
But it is not for us to remain on earth with the Incarnate 
Son, we must ascend into heaven. As to the great 
Apostle of the Nations, who saw the Face of the glorified 
Lord on the way to Damascus, so also to Sundar Singh 
the words apply : " Though we have known Christ 
after the flesh, yet now henceforth wc know Him no 
more. « * , Old things are passed away ; behold, all 
things are become new." 

As the Sadhu's Christology is conditioned by his per- 
sonal experience, so also is his conception of the Trinity. 
The purely metaphysical conception of the Trinity 
which became the accepted idea in the Catholic 
Church deals only with the mystery of relationship 
within the Godhead. According to Catholic doctrine 
the external activity of God h all one, and the works of 
redemption and sanctifl cation are only "attributed" to 
the Son and to the Spirit. The older (and to put it 
better, still undeveloped) conception of the Trinity, on the 

16a 




THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

contrary, is that of the " economy of salvation," which 
sees the historical revelation of God in the Son v and the 
working of the Spirit in the individual soul. Sundar 
Singh, who knows nothing of these theological refine- 
ments;, has unconsciously adopted this latter conception 
as his own. He clothes his conception of the Trinity 
in ;i beautiful parable which was used hy Sabellius in 
the early Church : 

Christ speaks to him : " I and the Father and (he Spirit are one, as 
limit heal find light are in the sun, although lipht k nut heat and heal is 
not light. Both arc one, but llieir PWelitktl unl rfda the full ukcS place 
in very different ways. In the same way I and the Holy Spirit who 
proceed from the Father give light and heat to the world. The baptismal 
lire of the Spirit bums up .ill kinds of sin and evil in the hearts of believers, 
and prepares ilitm lor heaven through this work of" cleansing and sanctifi- 
cdticin I ii in [he Trae light; 1 draw sinners out of the abyss of darkness, 
guide them in the right way and lead them into the bliss of heaven. Yet 
we are not three, bul one — as the sun is one, not three." The Sldhu 
develops the thought still further ; " When I ait hi die Sitn I do not enjoy 
first the ficat and then the light, I enjoy them both at once, No one 
cm, however, 1*7 i 'lit the sun's heat and light are one and the same 
thing- The snn can warm men and Nature, while its rays arc hidden 
behind clouds. In culd winter weather the sun can shine clearly without 
giving any heat. Light and heat are not the same. Bui usually when 
the sun pours i& rays upon u» we feel both light and heat." 

This parable in particular shows the Sadhu's genius 
for making the deepest mysteries of the Christian Faith 
clear and vivid. 



5, Salvation 

" Christ reflects the brightness of God's glory, and it 
is in His likeness that God created man. He is the 
true Mirror of the Divine ; in all other men this 
reflection is confused and dim." In the sinner this 
likeness of the Eternal Creator is disfigured and stained, 
but it is still there. Even a degraded man bears traces 

163 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

of Divine nobility within his sod. Sin seems to destroy 
this Divine likeness, yet in itself sin has no existence. 

" Sin Ei as no independent existence ; no one can say, therefore, ihai it 
ii something which has been created, It is only a name for a state of 
jnind, or a. disposition. There H only one Creator and He is good, and 
a good Creator cannot create anything evil J for that would be lo con- 
tradict 'His own being. Further, there can be no oilier being who has 
cieaied anything apart from the Creator. Satan oitl only Brian that 
which has already been created ; he has no power to create. Sin, there- 
fore, is Bather part of creation nor has ir an independent existence. It 
is only a sate of mind which lead* to error and destruction. P« instance, 
light has a real existence, while darkness is only the absence of light. 
Sin or evil, therefore, has no independent existence; it is merely the 
absence or the negation of good." " Sin is the name lor that act of 
v t |:-.vill which deliberately opposes the Will of God." 

It is indeed surprising to come across the Neo- 
Platotiic doctrine of sin which was accepted by Origen, 
Dionysius the Areopagite, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, 
Meister Eckhart, and Julian of Norwich in the religious 
thought-world of this " naive " Indian Christian disciple. 
Not only the terminology* but the symbolism of light 
and darkness belong to that school of Neo-Pktonic 
mysticism which was absorbed by Christianity. 

In another beautiful parable Sundar Singh tries to 
show that in itself sin docs not exist ; it is simply an 
interruption of the normal life of communion with God. 

" One day while 1 was travelling from America, to Australia there 
was no wireless news ; a storm had so disturbed the atmosphere that no 
message eould get through. In the same way sin disturbs the spiritual 
atmosphere, so that v 



e cannot hear the voice of God." 



But although the Sadhu's doctrine of sin is coloured 
by the negative conceptions of mystical theology, his 
doctrine of salvation is evangelical through and through. 
The problem of sin and grace is for him the central 
problem of Christianity. 

1&4 



[ 

pi 






THE. RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 



JjeSus Christ saves His people from their sins : this is the very heart 
of Christianity, Those who believe in Htm He frees from guilt by the 
gift of forgiveness; and He frees them from the dominion of sin by 
enabling them to overcame it," 

The hymn in praise of gratia sola, which was sung 
by Augustine and renewed by Luther, resounds fully 
and clearly in the preaching of the Sadhu. Salvation is 
the pure, undeserved, unmerited gift and grace of God. 

" I can testify, from my own experience, that peace of heart can never 
be attained by our own efforts ; on the contrary, Wc must receive it from 
Jeans Christ Himself through prayer." 

With an energy that reminds us of Luther, the Sadhu 
declares again and again in his addresses that we can 
never achieve salvation, forgiveness,, justification in the 
sight of God, or true peace, by any effort of our own. In 
his youth he learnt from bitter experience that salvation 
Cannot be attained by the most strenuous self-activity.. 

" It ii impossible for us to achieve our own salvation. . . . Good 
ethical teaching sounds well, but it accomplishes nothing. A fish which 
has been caught in .1 net can see & certain distance before it ; it can even 
move about a little, but it is stiJl a prisoner. ... If it tries to work its 
way out, ic realises still more painfully that it is a prisoner. My studies 
broadened my mind, but in spite of everything I discovered chat ] was 
caught in the net of sin. 1 am not aJcac in feeling this ; I have met 
many, many Indians who- had forsaken the world, who were- Jiving in 
caves in the jungle where ihej* were striving with aJJ their might to find 
rluj w.n » spiritual freedom s but all their efforts were fruitless. They 
only became more deeply entangled in the net. . . . Many of them, 
however. Went on Seeking until tficy found Christ. . . . Christ broke 
the fetters of sin, and they were free." 

Christ speaks : "The fig-leaves were not sufficient to cover Adam 
and Eve. Therefore God gave them coats of skins, hi the same way 
good works do not suffice to save men from the wrath to cumc. Nothing 
will avail save the robe of My righteousness." 

" Many people, especially those who have not received the Saviour, 
My- ' Do good, and you will be saved.' But, to be quite frank, those 
ttl ui WOO sought salvation along our own IkM and in our awn strength 

■ 65 



- 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

have to confess (hat wc failed entirely in our quest. A person who says 
"a nun can save himself, 1 is like a man standing by a well with a rope 
in his hand, saying to n poor wretch who hai fallen down the well, * Come 
and (.ate hold of the rope, and 1 will SiiVu you," But the man who is 
in the well says very naturally ■: * If I Were able to dirnb out by myself, 
of course I should Heed no rope. What a fool you art to stand there 
and t&llt like ihat. , . ,* It U eiactly the same with those who say 
that yog can be saved by good works. They make no progress, they 
receive no answer to their prayers. JeMiJ Christ has shown us another 
way. He came down to earth and stretched out His Hand to draw 
us up out of our sin and shame." 

" Once 1 was on a visit to a friend. He showed me 3 piece of iron 
which had the wonderful faculty of drawing metal to itself. It was a 
magnet, and he moved it about the tabic, upon which were objects of 
gold, silver, and iron. When the magnet came near the iron it drew it 
to itMaxj but it had no power to attract the gold or the silver, which Was 
so much more precious. This incident reminded me of (bote Words "I 
Jam : ' I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners.' Hu who 
feuls that he fs righteous and that his faith is sufficient far him, and th.it 
he needs no Saviour, will be left alone, jrcui Christ cannot dti 
to Himself." 

That salvation which man receives as a free gift with- 
out any effort of his own through the mercy of God h 
the forgiveness of sins. But forgiveness of sins alone 
(or merely the glossing over of certain misdeeds) cannot 
achieve complete, permanent, abounding salvation. It 
is not enough to cut down the various shoots from the 
tree of sin ; the roots must be pulled up and all the 
ground round the tree must be dug up a.nd renewed. 
Salvation and redemption are something far more 
inclusive than forgiveness of sins ; they imply the 
radical destruction of evil, the renewal of the whole 
being, a totally new birth, and holiness. 

" Many people My (hat solvation is forgiveness of sirn, and of course 
it is partly that. But complete, perfect salvition ii freedom from 3m, 
and not merely forgiveness of jina. Jesus Christ came not only to forgive 
sit!, but to make us free from sin. Wc receive from Christ a. new vital 
power which releases us from sin. . . . To be saved hy Christ is to 
receive new life from Him, to become a new creature-" 

" ! i | ■"!_ rtj.in g:uden I once saw a thorn-bush which yielded good 

1 66 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

fruit, and I asked the gardener who was attending to it how this could 
be. He replied that he had grafted a good branch into the bush ; this 
oad grown and the thorns had gradually disappeared, and now (he good 
branches had borne good fruit. This incident helps me to understand 
the wort of salvation which Jesui does in us. As the good branch which 
is grafted into (lie trunk of the thorn-hu&h brings new Jife to the whole 
bush, trans forming it into a good and fruitful tree, so Christ imparts new 
life lo uo ; He both causes Hia blood to flow through our hearts, and 
also makes us into new creatures, capable of cringing forth the fruit of 
the Spirit. And indeed, as the thorns disappear, the fruit will inevitably 
increase as. tfie riew life is formed within us. To be- bom ajiain means 
receiving the living power of Christ into one'* soul, as the them absorbs 
the sap from the new branch and becomes a new tree. We do not simply 
receive His wufd. His teaching, but nho Hit ' blood ' — that is to ay, the 
power that flows from His sacrificial Death ; through this power we arc 
grafted into Him, arid we become a new crea.tiari-" 

Thus we see that, in his thought of redemption, 
Sundar Singh lays the chief emphasis upon sanctifka- 
tion — that new life which springs from the most close 
and intimate union with Christ. His conception of 
Solvation, therefore, is coloured by Catholic rather than 
by Evangelical ideas ; indeed, it agrees almost word 
fur word with the definition of the Council of Trent : 

JotttfjeaOO non est sola peccatorum remissio, sed et saneiificario ct 
rencvatio intcrioris hominis per voluntarism susceptiortem grariae K 
dunarunt, undc homo ex imosco .fit iufiius ct ex initnico aluicus, tit sit 
' bona secundum spem viae etcraae.*" (Sew* 6 f c. 7.) 

The thought of some Reformers of the iustitia formats, 
of the mere being pronounced free from guilt, of 
Justification, which takes place outside of a man (iustitia 
extra noi\ is entirely absent from the Sadhu's conception. 
To him the grace of Justification (gratia iumjicans) is 
identical with sanctifying grace {gratia $anctijicans\ and 
in line with Scholastic Theology this grace is an infused 
grace (grxtia iftjusa), which works ft qualitative change 
within the soul. 

While Sundar Singh's conception of Justification is 

,6 7 



i 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

rather opposed to that of some Reformers, he speaks of 
the relationship between faith and good works in exactly 
the same way as Luther. Only when man has entered 
into communion with Christ through faith, and has 
thus found peace and joy and salvation, is he capable 
of bringing forth works of love and righteousness, It 
is only after a sinful heart has become good through 
God's miracle of redemption that anyone can really do 
good works. So long as the heart is not cleansed and 
renewed, all supposed " good works " are useless and 
futile. Like Luther,, the Skdhu loves to use the parable 
of the good and the bad tree, in order to show that true 
faith inevitably " worketh by love." 

*" A had tree can bring forth no good fruit, because its nature is bad!. 
Trie bad tree can only produce good fruir when it has been ingrafted 
into a good Irec t then irs natural disposition is changed and imp/OVed 
by the inflow of sap from the good iree. Even 40 die sinner cannot do 
anything good, because his inward disposition i* nor good. He can 
anly do this when his disposition has been altered, and this can only tale 
place when he has been grafted 1 into Christ by faith. When, by a living 
iiiitli, be ■ ingrafted into Christ, then he is a new creature who an and 
ought to lead a new life." 

Renewal of the heart through the redeeming grace 
of God is the foundation of all ethical activity. In this 
fact the Sadhu sees the decisive difference between 
Christian and natural ethics ; indeed, between the 
Christian faith and all other non-Christian religions, 

Christ speaks : "The moral teachers of the world say: 'Do good 
and you will be good.* But I say : ' First of all become good yourself. 
Good works come of themsdves when the heart ha? been renew**!, and 
is good." " 

"Then are not all religions alike in this, that they preach goodness ? 
Certainly, and yet there is a great difference. The non-Christian religions 
■ay : ' Do as many good deeds as you can, and you will end in being 
good yourself." But Christianity teach n the very opposite : ' Become 
good yourself, thrn you will be able to do good t tor goodtiejs grows 
naturally out oi a good hem-' The heart must first cf all be changed," 
168 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

Sundar Singh's words sound like quotations from 
Luther* Although he has never read the writings of 
the German Reformer, and indeed has only heard of 
him quite indirectly, in Protestant missionary institutions 
in India, yet on this point his views are almost identical 
with those of Luther. 



" The Scripture [caches that no man can do good until he is good 
himself; good works do not make him good, but the works become 
good because he does them. He, however, becomes good slowly by the 
cleansing of the New Birth. That is what Christ means in Matt. vii. 1 S : 
'An evil tree cannot bear good fruit, and a good tree cannot bear evil 
fruit.' The tree will bear fruit according to its nature." " As naturally 
is the tree bears fruit, so naturally do good Works follow alter faith, and 
juaE as there is no need to command the tree to bear fruits so [he believer 
need? no command nor czhorUtion to rouse him to do good ; he does it 
of his own accord freely and without my forcing." '' Christ docs nor 
tslk about doing and leaving undone, but about being and becoming; 
not about doing good works, but about being renewed, first of all. . . ." 

Once a man has been inwardly transformed by the 
grace of God he becomes truly creative, and all his 
external activity is marvellously fruitful. But humanity 
is not only called to become a new creation, it is destined 
for something higher still : to be conformed to the 
likeness of Christ, who is the " express image " of God. 
" The real purpose of the Incarnation of Divine Love 
is to raise humanity to its perfection." Thus the 
SSdhu 's doctrine of salvation rises to the heights of the 
mystical idea of deification— -a " deification," however* 
which avoids the dangerous reefs of pantheism. The 
Athanasian idea that God became man in order to deify 
humanity is re-echoed by Sundar Singh. 

In his teaching., too, we find links with that of On gen 
and Augustine, who suggest that the Christian does not 
only "believe in Christ," but that he himself becomes 
"a Christ " ; closely related to this idea, also, is the 
Lutheran formula : H to believe in Christ involves 

169 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

putting on Christ — becoming one with Him." Here, 
again, Sundar Singh illustrates his ideas by some sug- 
gestive parables. 

" la the East there are certain insects whose colour and form dosely 
rcsi'NibL' the trees in which they live. Or, whal tomes to the same 
thing : there are some trees which exercise such an influence over tie 
insects which live in them f that ihe latter become lite them; i.e. they 
look eractly like different pari* of a tree, such as the bark, the leal-stalk, 
or the leaf itself. The tree \i the world, in which the msec: lives, and 
its influence ia so strong that, to some orient, the liille creature becomes 
almost exactly like it. So we become gradually like Christ, as We Jive 
in Him and with Him, through the power of His life which works in 
us. In faith and ttfej ia thought and mind, in temper and behaviour, 
WC must gradually grow like Him." 

" The polar bear lives among the snow, and he is the same colour 
as the mow. The skin of the Bengal royal tiger looks like the reeds 
and! grasses of the primeval forest. So those who live in spiritual com- 
munion with God Lie the saints and angels have a share in Christ's nature, 
and become tranifcrmed into His likeness." 

" In certain countries climate affects the outward appearance of the 
inhabitants. If, then, the physical atmosphere has such a marked influence 
upon the outward aspect of human beings, the spiritual atmosphere 
must affect the soul and its character still more strongly. If we lin 
continually with the Lord in prayer, more and more His image will be 
formed within us." "Then we shall be transformed into die Divine 
likeness, and into a glory that is eternal." 

" If Chmt lives in us, our whole life will become Christltkc. Salt 
which ha* been dissolved in water may disappear, but it does net cease 
to exist. We know it is there when wc taste the water. Even k> the 
indwelling Christ, although He is unseen, will become visible to others 
through the love which He shares with us." 

The SSdhu's teaching is full of the mystical idea 
expressed in the word "deiform " ; but the very 
figures of speech which he employs show quite clearly 
that he rejects all suggestions of merging the personality 
in God, or of actual identification with God. The 
insects are not the tree, although they are so like it in 
colour ; the polar bear remains a bear although he is 
the colour of the snow. So the man who is like God 

170 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

is still a human being, even if his face is like the Face 
of Christ and his life and his works reveal something 
of the Divine glory and love. The Divine Likeness 
which he bears about with him springs from his life 
of humble personal fellowship with Gad through faith 
and prayer. The Sidhu's teaching on deification remains 
strictly within the limits of evangelical piety. 



Sundar Singh moves in a world of miracle. His 
public addresses contain stories of the supernatural from 
his own life as well as from the lives of other saints. 
To him these miracles are unimpeachable signs of God's 
power, love and grace,, and he feels that they oueht to 
Strengthen the faith of others. For instance, once he 
was sitting in the depths of the jungle, on the banks of 
a swift river ; he had lost his way and did not know what 
to do 5, suddenly an unknown man appeared and swam 
across with him on his back ; the ntxt moment his helper 
had vanished. Another time he was spending a night 
in the open, shivering and hungry, when, behold, two 
strange men brought him food, and just as he was going 
to thank them they disappeared. Again, armed men 
fell upon him with sticks ; he began to pray, and when 
he opened his eyes he was alone. The next morning 
his assailants returned ; and they questioned him about 
the " men in shining garments " who were with him ; 
then he knew that the angels of God were round about 
him. One night he was sleeping in a ruined house ; 
when he woke up, to his horror he saw that a great 
snake was lying under his arm ; he fled in terror, then 
he returned and shook the poisonous reptile from his 
blanket. Another time he was asleep in a cave ; when 
he woke up he saw a great leopard standing close to him. 

•7* 



SADHU SUNOAR SINGH 

Never, according to his own account, has a wild beast 
ever done him any harm. 

Once, when in Tibet, all through one cold night he 
was bound by chains to a tree in a forest ; there he stood, 
starving and shivering, and when morning broke and 
he became fully conscious he found fruit lying by his 
side and his fetters fallen to the ground. On another 
occasion he sat for three days in a well full of corpses, 
and lo, an unknown man drew him out, touched his 
injured arm, healed it, and then vanished. The key 
of the cover of the well was found hanging to the girdle 
of the cruel judge. Once he passed by a man who 
pretended to be dead while his deceitful friend begged 
the Sadhu to give htm money for his friend's burial. 
But when the lying beggar returned to his companion 
he found him actually dead -, he hurried back to the 
Sadhu, begged his forgiveness, and became converted 
to Christ. (2 1) 

The wonderful experiences of others also serve the 
Sa*dhu as proofs of God's power and providence. For 
instance, a Tibetan Christian was thrown over a precipice 
and was picked up alive. An unknown man came to 
him and gave him water to drink out of his own 
hand. And rhe Christian martyr saw the wounds in the 
Stranger's Hands and knew it was his Saviour, and he 
fell at His Feet crying : " My Lord and my God." Once 
a Christian leper whose fingerwas withered metastranger 
who poured water over his hands. And suddenly the 
leper recognised his Saviour, and cried aloud : " My 
Lord and my God ! I want to worship Thee." But 
He had already vanished out of his sight. To a Tibetan 
hermit, a seeker after truth, who was about to commit 
suicide in sheer despair, there appeared a wonderful 
Being, clothed in light, whose Hands and beet were 
scarred, and It spoke to him, saying : " If with all your 

1 7 z 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 



heart ye truly seek Me, ye shall ever surely find Mc " ; 
and the hermit's soul was filled with a wonderful peace, 
though he did not know the Stranger's name. Later, 
the hermit learnt from Sundar Singh that the Unknown 
Stranger was Christ. Another Tibetan hermit, who was 
restlessly searching for truth, was led by a stranger for 
a hundred miles to a Christian man, by whom he was 
converted and baptised. And when the stranger 
suddenly disappeared^ the teacher and the convert 
both realised that he had been an angel from heaven. 

To prove the wonderful power of faith the Sadhu 
draws many illustrations from the heroic sufferings of 
Christian martyrs. He tells of a girl of Nepal who out 
of love to Jesus had refused a suitor ; a red-hot sheet 
of iron was laid upon her body \ she bore this torture 
in perfect peace. Her father noticed her radiant face, 
and he asked her whence she had this joy ; she answered : 
" From Jesus." But before he could set her free from 
the instrument of torture she had gone into the land of 
everlasting joy. Once there was a Tibetan evangelist 
who was flogged by some opponents ; then his tormentors 
rubbed salt into his bleeding wounds. But his face shone 
with peace and joy, and it was like that of an angel. 
And the people began to think : "This joy is not of 
this world ; all this that he says about following Christ 
and having Christ in his heart must be true." 

Another Tibetan confessor had glowing nails thrust 

(into his body, but he cried out i *' I rejoice to suffer 
for my Redeemer." And when the lama said, ll It 
is an evil spirit which has taken hold of him," the people 
replied : " That cannot be ; an evil spirit cannot give 
such joy to anyone ; it must be a good and a holy spirit." 
A preacher of the Gospel was hung up by his feet 
to a tree, and he said to his tormentors : " You cannot 
understand how happy I feel because I am thus honoured 

*73 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

to suffer. This world is all upside down, and your 
whole lift: is the wrong way up, and that is why you 
hivi. hung me up like this. But in reality my head is 
BOt bunging down ; my spirit is in heaven." After three 
Imurs r:f this torture he was. set free, and he lived. Kartar 
Singh, the courageous herald of the Gospel in Tibet, 
was once sewn into a damp yak skin and Jeft in the sun 
for three days. He was joyful, however, all the time, 
and he cried out to his persecutors : " I thank God for 
this great privilege of suffering for Him ; men have left 
me alone, but not my Saviour ; He is with me — indeed, 
He is in me." Another story he tells is of forty Armenian 
Christians who were standing naked on a cold winter 
night by a Turkish camp-fire. One after another, as 
each confessed his faith in Christ, they were driven 
into icy water and drowned. And above the head of 
each martyr Christ appeared with a crown. But the 
fortieth crown disappeared — the fortieth Christian dtnicd 
Christ and went back to the fire. When the Turkish 
ofRcer saw this* he confessed that he loved Christ, and he 
suffered the same death ; the crown shone above his 
head also, but the apostate went raving mad. 

Every Western reader, if he is at all critically inclined, 
will shake his head over these tales of miracle and smile 
gently at the " sentimental love of the marvellous" 
shown by this Indian believer. Even Sundar Singh 
says : " Wc find it difficult to believe in miracles ; this 
is only human nature." Modern theologians in the West 
have been repelled by the Sadhu's " iove of miracle," and 
some of them have attacked him on this point. Their 
criticism of Sundar Singh is the natural reaction of modern 
critical rationalism against the atmosphere of miracle 
in which this Indian Christian disciple lives. This kind 
of criticism is not entirely valueless j it is true that the 
SSdhu's stones of the miraculous are neither " so spiritual 

'74 






THE RELIGIOUS THOOGHT-WORLD 
nor so beautiful " as those in the Fwrttti of St. Francis 
of Assisi. At first sight they make an impression of 
peculiar clumsiness and stiffness. The critical historian, 
however, draws speck! attention to the curious sameness 
of the miracle msrif. There are really only two types of 
miracle which appear in slightly varied form again and 
again in the different stories. In the larger number 
of incidents supernatural figures appear and disappear 
with startling suddenness. The martyr-stories, too, 
which the Sldhu tells, are almost all of the same type \ 
m the midst of terrible suffering the martyrs arc filled 
with supernatural joy which convinces the spectators 
of the truth of their Faith. 

It is very curious to note the different doublets which 
appear in the Sadhu's miracle-stories. The finding of 
the only possible key in the judge's girdle occurs in two 
different narratives : in one instance the fetters which 
chained him to the tree were fastened with this mysterious 
key ; in the other, the key belonged to the iron cover 
of the well and to the iron door of the enclosure round 
the well. In two situations, widely separated from each 
other both in place and time— in North India, on the 
night after Sundar Singh had been driven out of his 
father's house, when he took refuge under a tree, and 
in Tibet, when he was bound to a tree during a cold 
night — each time the tempter brought before his eyes 
the comfortable home of his father, and each time, as 
he began to pray, Christ filled his heart with wonderful 
peace. 

We cannot, however, help noticing one curious fact : 
the converts and martyrs of whom Sundar Singh speaks 
reveal exactly the same kind of experience as the Sadhu ; 
they think, feel, and talk just as he does. A Christian 
evangelist in Baluchistan, who suffered a martyr's death 
for Christ, once burnt a Bible, in the same wayas Sundar 

'7! 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 
Singh did in his youth. The conversion of the Tibetan 
hermit is a complete parallel with the Sadhu 's own 
conversion : there is the same resolve to commit suicide, 
the same kind of prayer, the same supernatural light — 
all these elements in the story of his own conversion 
reappear here. In the same way the conversion of the 
Mahirishi of Kailas is only the reflex of the story of the 
SSdhu's conversion. The very same Bible words (" Come 
unto Me, all yc that are weary and heavy laden . . . 
God so loved the world . . .") led this holy man of 
the Himalayas to Christ, just as they led the Sadhu. 
A terrible robber who had turned to Christ narrated the 
story of his conversion in the very same words which we 
hear constantly from the SSdhu's own lips : " I experi- 
enced the greatest miracle in my own heart, and it is 
this : Sinner as I am, I am yet allowed to receive heaven 
upon this earth." 

A Tibetan man of God, who was stoned by a crowd on 
account of his Christian faith, told the Sadhu about this 
experience in words which sound exactly like the Sldhu's 
own way of telling a story : " In this terrible situation," 
he said, " I was filled with this wonderful peace J this 
seemed to mc the greatest miracle in the world." Kartar 
Singh, who was sewn up in the yak skin for three days 
and three nights (just as the Sadhu sat for three days 
and three nights in the well full of corpses), expresses his 
happiness to his persecutors in exactly the same language 
as the Sadhu i "In this torture I feel as if I were in 
heaven." 

When a Buddhist ascetic in Tibet, who had been 
converted to Christ, was being stoned, the stones seemed 
ro him like lovely flowers— just like Sundar Singh in 
similar circumstances. And as one of the onlookers 
cried out " He is a fool I " one of the other spectators 
declared : " If foolishness can give anyone such peace 

176 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 
I would choose to be a fool." Daud Khan in Baluchistan 
said the same thing when he saw a Christian preacher's 
arm hacked off. The Sadhu tells exactly the same stories 
about his own life. When an onlooker in Horn, who was 
watching his torture, cried out " He is a fool I" a man 
who had just torn up a Gospel-portion which the Sidhu 
had given him said : " If a fool possesses such peace, 
I also would be a fool 1 " 

Finally, various parallels from the New Testament, 
and from the legendary literature of Christianity and 
of Buddhism, show that many of the leading ideas 
in the Sldhu's miracle-stories are in no way either new 
or original. Sundar Singh's story of the stones which 
seemed to him and to a Tibetan martyr " like beautiful 
flowers," although "they were quite ordinary stones ; 
but His presence so changed them that I felt as though 
I were in heaven " — reminds us of the Buddhist legend 
of Lalita Vistara, in which the missiles hurled by Mara 
only swept over Gautama's head and " by the might of 
his sublime love were changed into garlands of flowers." 
Sunday's wonderful release from the iron fetters in the 
forest is like the deliverance of Peter, from whose hands 
(according to the story in the Acts of the Apostles) the 
chains fell of their own accord. If the Sadhu, like the 
Mahirishi of Kaills, has never suffered any harm from 
the attacks of wild beasts, he is like the early Christian 
Fathers of the Desert, who lived fearlessly among wild 
beasts, and like Buddha and his disciples, who tamed the 
wildest animals by their all-embracing love. The words 
of a Bodhisattva might also easily apply to a Christian 
Sadhu : 

" Wandering among die mountains I intruded Ijons and liters by the 
power of my friendship. Surrounded by lions and i lg e,s. by panthers, 
bears and buffaloes, by antelopes, deer and wild boar, dius I lived in 
the Joresl. No creature is afraid of mc, and 1 fear nolle in return." 

'77 



SADHU 5UNDAR SINGH 

The story of the deceitful man who pretended to be 
dead and then really died is a variation of a legend of 
the Eastern Church which was first told by Theodoret 
about St James of Nisibis, certainly with the addition 
that the Saint's extraordinary power in prayer caused both 
the death and the resurrection of the man in question. 
The same story is also attributed to St. Gregory Thau- 
maturgus and to St. Epiphanias, but without the raising 
from the dead, Sundar's story of the martyrdom of 
Kartar Singh is remarkably like the martyrdom of St. 
Chrysanthus, who, according to the account in the 
Roman breviary, was sewn into the skin of an ox and 
then placed in the burning sun. The story of the forty 
Armenian martyrs which Sundir Singh neard from an 
Armenian, and which he supposed to be an incident from 
the most recent persecution of Christians in Turkey, is, 
in reality, an old Christian legend of the Forty Martyrs 
of SebastCj who are said to have died in that Armenian 
town about the year 310, This legend has a place in 
the Roman breviary (Feast of the Forty Martyrs : 
March ioth), and it has merely been transferred, 
slightly altered, from the fourth century to the 
present day. 

In addition to these historical parallels, in all these 
tales of the miraculous the whole mentality of the Indian, 
and especially of the Indian ascetic, must be taken into 
account. One of the most able students of the history 
of Indian literature says decidedly: "Indians have 
never made any distinction between Saga, legend, 
and history." This applies particularly to ascetics, 
who for days at a time are quite alone among the mag- 
nificent mountains of the Himalayas, and who give them- 
selves up exclusively to the contemplation of Nature, to 
inward concentration, and supernatural ecstasy. In their 
experience the inner vision becomes developed to such 

1,8 



an 1 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 






eKtent that the usual difference between subjective 
and objective truth disappears entirely. 

All this suggests that some of the SSdhu's stories of 
the miraculous need not be considered as historical 
facts, but as legends j doubtless they have some solid 
foundation, but, in the form in which they are told, 
they have been worked up by a creative miracle-fantasy! 
Even scholars who admit the possibility of the miraculous 
cannot refuse to consider such a suggestion. Historical 
criticism is, of course, independent of the religious and 
philosophical aspect of the question of miracle. Those 
who are familiar with the problems of biblical and 
hagiographical miracle find, to their astonishment, in 
the anecdotes which the Sadhu tells over and over again, 
certain clear principles, which show how legends are 
formed : repetition of the same motif, doublets, and 
variants. It is a striking and significant fact that we can 
ilm- confirm these principles of the growth of legends 
in people belonging to our own day, for the SSdhu's 
stories deal exclusively with experiences of his own and 
of his contemporaries, So we see that legends do not 
necessarily arise after the death of a saint, and within the 
inner circle of his disciples, but during his own lifetime, 
and perhaps even in his own mind. 

On the other hand, we must not forget that miracle- 
legends arc never entirely the products of a purely 
creative fantasy, but that they arc founded on wonderful 
events which have actually happened. If miracles were 
impossible, in the broadest sense of the word, and if 
miracles had never actually happened, religious men 
would never have invented them. For the historical 
critic there is, however, this difficulty— that in certain 
instances—whether in the miracles of the Bible, or in 
the lives of the saints, or in the same stories in the present 
day— it is hardly ever possible to establish the actual 







SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

fact ; in the end II always has t" be left with a trot liquet. 
This is exactly what has happened in the case of Sundar 
Singh. Inquiries have been made into his tiles of the 
marvellous ; in the greater number of instances nothing 
has been proved, either for or against their historicity. In 
any case we must guard against reading too much of the 
Legendary element into the Sadhu's spiritual life. Some 
of his stories, which Western listeners received with the 
greatest scepticism, have been confirmed in the most 
conclusive manner by eyewitnesses, after careful inquiry. 

Many wonderful cures which were reported to have 
taken place have been confirmed by reliable witnesses. 
The most striking of these incidents is vouched for by a 
Singhalese merchant, K. R. Wilson, in Colombo. There 
was a boy in hospital who was so ill that the doctors 
prophesied a very long and slow recover)', if, indeed, 
recovery were possible, which they doubted. The 
Sadhu prayed for him and kid his hands on him, and in 
two days he left the hospital perfectly restored, and 
shortly after that he was able to attend one of the meet- 
ings wherethe Sadhu wasspeaking. Anotherstrikingcure 
is narrated by a Presbyterian missionary near Shi Hong, 1 
After one of the Sadhu's addresses a deaf man pushed 
his way through the crowd and managed to touch Study's 
sleeve. Instantly he was healed. Striking incidents like 
these warn us against judging too hastily that a large part 
of the Sadhu's narrative is purely legendary. 

While the external material factor in most of the 
reported miracles will always remain an open question j 
it is not difficult to understand the mental outlook of a 
man who believes in miracles, and who narrates these 
happenings in implicit faith. A person who believes 
in miracles docs not live in this visible world of appear- 
ances, but in that invisible realm which is beyond the 



1S0 



i Mr. j. Sdom,rfMwtt*i 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

world of sense ; as the Sid.hu says over and over again, 
he lives in heaven while he is still upon earth. Therefore 
he looks at this external world with quite other eyes than 
the man who is immersed entirely in the world of external 
happenings, and who is blind to the secrets of the 
Supernatural world. Where the eye of the " profane *' 
man sees the outward aspect only, the spiritual man, 
whose vision has been intensified by prayerful intercourse 
with God., sees the wonderful effects of eternal powers. 
The world of sense becomes transparent, and the reality 
of the other invisible, spiritual world shines through. 
Living contact with the higher world through faith and 
prayer causes the spiritual man to adopt an entirely 
different attitude towards external events from that of 
rationalistic scientific research or of ordinary material- 
ism. Snndar Singh speaks thus of the rationalism and 
materialism of the present day : 

"The days or. miracle a.rc not over, bill l!ie dky* of faith txt P4«" 
" People of to-day do not belierc in miracles, and they do not understand 
them. They spend their time in atudy or in business, but they giire no 
time to prayer to their Saviour. W c shall otlly experience wonderful 
thing? wlien we spend more time in prayer." 

In these words the Sadhu has touched the heart of 
the problem. For the man of prayer the external world 
has a different aspect from that which it has for the 
intellectual man, or for the man who gives all his atten- 
tion to business or pleasure. He sees farther than the 
man who depends wholly on reason ; farther, too, than 
the rigid order of natural 1 aw, 

" Miracles are not in opposition 10 fin tufa I law. There are higher 
laws in Nature of which wc usually know nothing. Miracles are related 
to these higher laws. Through prayer we gradually leam (o nndentind 
them." 

Christ spc-its : " Prayer makes tiling possible to men who would 
tftlierwise consider iliwn impossible. Scientific HMO do nol realist 1Ji.11 

iRl 



■ 



SXDHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Hi- ivlio haj given an ordered form to all created tilings cannot be int. 
iritbn the limira of His own hm, Tlit: ways of the great 
1 '■■ hi I }<.-j reliable; for His eternal Will and Purpose is the 

blessing and happiness of all Ha creatures. The reason of :he natural 
nun cannot grasp this, for spiritual thing* must be spiritually discerned." 
** In very cold regions a bridge of water ia u usual sight. For as tfie 
suffice of the water is frozen hard, the river flows beneath it freely and 
people can walk comfortably and safely over the bridge of ice. But if 
you were to tell people who live in the heat of a tropica] climate tlL.it 
you know of a bridge made of water which Spans a flowing river they 
would say that such things arc quite impossible, and entirely again*! all 
the laws of nature. The same great difference erists between those who 
have been bom agahu who maintain their spiritual life through prayer, 
and those who lead a worldly life v who value material things only, and 
understand absolutely nothing of the spiritual life.™ 

Belief in miracles is rooted in the depths of the sou I, 
in its fellowship with God in prayer ; it springs from this 
source, and ever returns to it again. Since, then, the 
decisive clement itt this matter lies in inward fellowship 
with God and not in any definite external fact, in the 
last resort miracle becomes something very great and 
spiritual. In contrast with those wonderful inward 
experiences which come to the believer in prayer : peace, 
joy, " heaven upon earth," all external miracles, even 
the most inexplicable leadings and deliverances, must 
be relegated to a lower sphere. With remarkable energy 
the Sadhu never tires of declaring that the miraculous 
is not to be sought in external signs and wonders, but in 
the redemption of the soul. " Miracles are not given 
in order to satisfy our curiosity, but to save our souls." 

Speaking of his deliverance from the well, he says: " Perhaps it was 
an angel from heaven, or perhaps it was Jesus Himself who drew me 
out of the Well. In any ease it was a great miracle. Tie greatest 
miracle of all, however, was that Jesus filled my heart with His peace 
in the midst of this dreadful suffering." Of his release from the tree 
to which he was bound in the forest he says i "The moat wonderful 
part of the whole ciperiencc was not the fact that I was set free, but 
that I was allowed to feel this wonderful peace in [fie midst of those 
turrihte sufferings. . . . Everyone cannot go to Tibet and be bound 

18a 



_ 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

to i tree, but everyone can experience the peace and toy which I found 
in Christ." 

" I have often met people who to an ted me to talk about miraculous 
happenings. They had heard so much about this Sort of thing, and they 
mated me to tell them some Stories. But the greatest miracle of all is 
the fact that Jesus Christ has changed my whole nature and that He has 
saved me from my sins." "That a sinner who was dead hi trespasses 
■Bd tins is born again in Clirk. il the greatest miracle in [I 
"The greatest, 1 would lite m say the only, minldc which can happen 
to us is i he- peace cl Christ. That a poor, restless, impure, sinful human 
■oul can receive lb* Gaqpiaest of God and taste the peace of Christ — 
this transcends all human reason, this is the miracle of miracles. If a 
man has otice cipcrknccxi this miracle, he does not marvel any longer 
over other so-called miracles." " The greatest miracle of atl is tie 
New Birth ; if anyone has experienced that in his own life, all other 
miracles seem possible." " He who believes in this miracle believes in 
all miracles." 

The same Sadhu who tells of so many strange and 
wonderful happenings in his addresses also leads his 
hearers again and again away from external marvels 
into the world of inward experience and prayer, where 
the highest miracles take place. " If you really wish 
to see signs and wonders, then give time to prayer." 
Indeed, sometimes he expressly warns his hearers against 
the desire to see signs and Wonders, and exhorts them 
rather to great simplicity and usefulness in everyday 
life. " We ought not to want to sec signs and wonders, 
but to do the Will of God." Because Sundar Singh 
kys all the stress upon the spiritual miracle which God 
works in the heart of the believer, he resists all attempts 
to make him lay his hands upon the siek and pray over 
them. When a Singhalese woman asked hint to lay his 
hands upon her son who was dangerously ill, he replied : 
"In these hands there is no power, only in the pierced 
Hands of Christ." At last, however, he acceded to her 
urgent request, and a few days later the boy appeared, 
perfectly well, and sat among the £adhu*s hearers. 
But when people acclaimed the Sadhu as a wondcr- 

183 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

worker, he explained that it was not his power, but the 
power of Christ, which had worked the cure. Finding, 
however, that they would not believe him, he told himself 
that he must not do such things again, as they encouraged 
superstition and diverted attention from the Gospel 
of Christ which he had to preach. Since then he has, 
refused to lay his hands upon sick folk, or to allow 
troubled souls to touch his robe -, neither will he bless 
individuals nor whole audiences. " How can these 
hands which have torn up the Word of God, and thrown 
it into the fire, bless anyone ? " 

These statements throw quite another light upon the 
S£dhu*s belief in miracles than that which his own 
accounts would lead us to expect. A critic has called 
him " an imitator of a mediaeval miracle-worker who 
scatters signs and marvels wherever he goes " ; nothing 
could be farther from the truth. His attitude towards 
miracles is more spiritual than that of many Christian 
saints, whether ancient or modern. Because his soul 
lives entirely in the spiritual sphere, everything which 
he sees and experiences in the visible world is full of 
" signs and wonders." Hence, to him, so-tailed 
" miracles n in the external world are quite natural ; 
and he speaks of them in a perfectly natural way ; at 
the same time be does not consider them important 
in comparison with the wonderful work of God's grace 
in redemption. Therefore, in the Sadhu's opinion, it 
does not really matter whether his tales of the marvellous 
are accounts of actual events or merely the reflection 
of his own childlike piety. 

In the peculiar emphasis which Sundar Singh lays 
upon the spiritual miracle of redemption, once again he 
reminds us of the German Reformer, who had such a 
deep distrust of all signs and wonders because he felt so 
strongly that the greatest wonder of all was the soul's 

.84 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 



is a strong, living 



joy in the absolute certainty of the forgiveness of sins. 
The "visible" wonderful works which Jesus did were 
" only signs for the uncomprehending, unbelieving 
multitude," to whom one *' throws apples and pears as 
to children " and whom one must lead to faith " through 
external marvels." "We, on the contrary, should 
praise God and rejoice in the great and glorious works 
which Christ does daily among His people, giving them 
power to overcome the might and force of the devil." 
The " mighty work " which is greater than all " bodily 
miracles and signs," " which shall endure until the Day 
of Doom," the " wonder of wonders,' 
faith. 

Thus Sundar Singh leads us right into the heart of 
this question ; he helps us to find the middle path 
between superstitious love of the marvellous and 
rationalistic scepticism. Sundar Singh's life and activity 
illuminate and confirm those exquisite thoughts about 
miracles which Dostoevsky puts into the mouth of 
Zosima in the Brothers Karamazov : 



" In my opinion miracles are never any difficulty to a roan who a in 
touch with reality. A person who is gifted with this mum of reality is 
not moved to believe by string miracle*. Indeed, if he h an unbeliever, 
hi? will always be able to cast suspicions on any miraculous happening. 
And even if the miracle be presented to him as an iirefnttbie fiict, he 
Will rather doubt the evidence of his own senses than yield to the fact. 
If he does accept it, it will only be as something quite natural which 
was there all along, only he did not happen to know it. Thus in 3 soul 
endowed with this sense of reality, faith is not bom from miracle, but 
rather miracle from faith. When, however, a man of ifiii kaiid really 
believes, his very temperament leads him to ucccpt the miraculous 
unconditionally." 



_ 



7. The Future Lifi 

Sundar Singh belongs to the Small number of those 
who believe that even during their earthly life they have 

185 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

been allowed to penetrate the unseen world — that world 
which other men regard with dim perception and 
with yearning desire. In the experience of ecst:isv be 
has found the solution of that great enigma which causes 
so many men such anxious uncertainty : the fate of those 
who have passed over the river of death into the unknown 
land of eternity. But in public he speaks very seldom 
of these ec atic experiences ; usually he does not talk 
about " heaven " in the sense of the future life at all, 
hut simply of "heaven upon earth," of peace in Christ, 
For only those whose heaven has begun upon earth 
will be able to dwell eternally with Christ, and with 
His angels and saints. 

Following the ancient conception of the Vedas, Sundar 
Singh distinguishes three heavens. The first heaven— 
" heaven upon earth " — is the Presence of Christ, with 
all the peace and happiness which the believing soul 
finds in prayer. The second heaven is Paradise, that 
Paradise which the dying Saviour promised upon the 
cross to the penitent thief. The majority of men enter 
this state after their death with their " spiritual body " 
and have to stay there for i certain period— some for a 
few days, others for several months and even for years ; 
during this time they are trained by angels, until they are 
fit for the Vision of Christ, But this purgatory is no 
place of painful cleansing, like the ,l purgatory " so 
often seen by Western saints in their visions. Here 
there are no spiritual flames cleansing the souls of men 
from the impurities of sin ; no, those who dwell there 
rejoice in the Presence of Christ, although they are not 
allowed to see Him with their spiritual eyes, but they 
feel His blissful Presence in ever-flowing waves of 
light, and from afar they catch strains of heavenly 
music. 

In this intermediate state the souls of the departed 
1S6 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

ripen in holy desire and become able to contemplate 
the Face of Christ and to enjoy the fellowship q( elect 
souls and of the Saints, Those who had attained to 
close fellowship with God while they were on earth, 
like Francis of Assisi and Thomas a Kcmpis, are able, 
at death, to enter immediately into the third and highest 
heaven. Further, even now, in moments of special 
grace, such souls (like the Seer of Patmos and the Sadhu 
himself) are able to visit this state of blessedness " in 
the spirit," and to have happy intercourse with Christ 
and His angels and saints. Sundar Singh gives a wonder- 
ful description of his heavenly visions, which will bear 
Comparison with the visions of the ApocalypsCj of the 
Christian saints, and of the great Florentine poet-seer. 
To some extent, perhaps, his rich symbolism has been 
affected by the conception of heaven current among the 
saints of Islam, who in their turn depend upon the 
intuitions of Christian saints, particularly those which 
are found in Ephraim's book on Heaven (De parxdho 



_ 



In the centre of heaven is the throne of Christ, the 
Saviour, His countenance is "as the sun shineth in 
his strength," yet it docs not dazzle the beholder. An 
indescribable gentleness and kindness beams in His 
eyes, a sweet smile is on His lips. His hair sparkles 
like gold and shines like the light. His wounds, from 
which flows His Precious Blood, radiate a glorious 
beauty. Round about the Throne, " ten thousand 
times ten thousand," stand celestial beings : angels and 
saints. Their raiment is glorious and dazzling, radiant 
with a beauty unknown upon earth. In all their faces 
there is a M family likeness," for as on earth the sun's 
rays are reflected in the water, so is the Face of Christ 
reflected m the spirits of just men made perfect. Between 
Christ and these glorified spirits mysterious waves of 

is 7 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

light flow back and forth^ spreading a wonderful peace 
and a deep refreshment like a soft rain which refreshes 
the trees in the midst of summer heat — these arc the 
life-giving waves of the Holy Spirit, These happy 
souls behold " the lovely Face of Christ " in all around 
them, and their faces shine with wonder and delight. 

Then there are wonderful streams and mountains, 
flowers and trees. So wonderful that, in comparison with 
them, all the streams and mountains, flowers and trees 
of this world seem shadowy and dim. Everything is 
transparent] so that the spiritual eye can penetrate 
infinite distances. Glorious music resounds in the 
heavenly spaces, apparently proceeding from some 
hidden celestial choir. All the heavenly spirits, even 
the rivers and the mountains, the flowers and the 
trees, join in a spontaneous outburst of praise and 
adoration. 

In a spiritual language which is understood by all, 
the souls of the blessed hold converse with Christ and 
with one another, entering into the deepest mysteries 
and problems of the soul. No fatigue is there, no pain, 
no sorrow, nothing but joy and bliss, love and delight, 
unto all eternity ; "Joy for eternity, neither pain u« i 
conflict. There have 1 seen joy filling all things to the 
furthest limits, perfection of joy ! " — this inspired utter- 
ance of Kabir, which Sundar Singh may have heard in 
his early youth, re-echoes in his description of heaven. 
There, ton:), is no fainting and failing, no stagnation, 
but instead, continual progress, infinite development, 
unceasing movement towards Divine Perfection. 

" Within humanity are the germs of countless qualities, which cuuluI 
ripen in lliis world for lack of the right kind of environment. But in 
iht fuiuie lite ihcy will find the right environ meiir f -which will enable 
them, to reach perfection." " Thijre, in the Presence and Fellowship 
of cwr Heavenly Father . . , infinite means will be provided far bfinite 
progrew, until we become perfect i& He is perfect." 

188 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

Yet in spite of this continual progress towards perfec- 
tion, at every stage the heavenly life is utterly satisfying. 
The blessed spirits feel at home in their Father's House, 
and experience a joyful sense of well-being ; " Here," 
they say, " is our Eternal Home." But the joy of human 
beings who have striven and suffered here upon earth 
will surpass the joy of the angels who hive :ihv;iys lived 
in the Father's House, and have known M no suffering 
and no conflict." The sorrowful will find their sorrow 
turned into joy, and those to whom life has brought 
bitterness will taste and know that " God alone is sweet." 
So this heavenly .life is infinite and eternal blessedness, 
of which the beginning and the end is Christ. But even 
here, in the heights of heaven, God, the infinite Father, 
is5till invisible ; forever He remains the " hidden God." 
Unseen, yet present, He reigns in the hearts of those 
who worship Him ; even to the perfected spirits He 
shows Himself only in the Face of His Son, who is the 
express ! mage of His Glory and His Love. 

So long as man is in this earthly life he cannot grasp 
the wonder of that celestial bliss which is his immortal 
destiny. He is like the chicken in its little shell, destined 
for a great and glorious world of which it can form no 
conception beforehand. 

" If the little chicken in the egg were lo declare that nothing existed 
outside the egg, and its mother Were to reply : * No, in the outside world 
there are mountains, flowers, and blue ally, 1 and the little chicken were 
to reply : ' You are talking nonsense, f can't see any of these things/ and 
it the shell weft- to break suddenly, then the little chicken would see 
that his mother una right. It is just the same with us ; we &re rtill in 
the shell, and vra sec neither heaven nor hell. But one day the shtll 
will break, and then we shall see. At the same time there are hints of 
the future stale : the little chicken m the shell has eyes and wings, which 
arc in themselves a sufficient proof that they will be needed lor a. Future 
life. The eye is created for seeing, yet what can it aee while it IS in the 
shell ? The wings are created for flying, but how can it fly while it is 
in the shell ? It is quite clear that neither ejes nor wings arc intended 

189 



L 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

for a cramped life within the IJmics. of a AtSL In the same way, wc 
have many desires and longings which can never be .satisfied here, There 
must be some way of satisfying them, however, and this opportunity is 
Eternity. But just as the Utile chicken needs CO be kept Warm as Jong 
as it is in the shell, so while we live in rhis World we have to be cherished 
and warmed by the brouding Presence and Fire of the Holy Spirit." 

Sundar Singh's teaching about hell is not consistent, 
fn lus earlier addresses he used to speak constantly 
about the certainty of an irrevocable doom. 

" In this world God gives us daily the opportunity of salvation. But 
if We reject this opportunity here, no second chance will be offered to 
us hereafter. If there had been a possibility of salvation in the other 
world, Christ would not have come down to us." " Wru»n wc are in 
hell we shall have no opportunity of becoming better. . . . Once evil 
has the upper hand, it ia useless to eipect any improvement in behaviour." 
" Satan falls upon Us in. the darkness, and drags us down into deatn t into 
eternal death, from which there is no escape." 

Even in his latest pamphlet he speaks more than once 
of everlasting punishment. These dogmatic statements 
are not in harmony with the views which Sundar Singh 
expressed in his conversations with Canon Strecter. (22} 
There he spoke as though God's Love were operative 
even in hell. Hell is not presented as a place of eternal 
pain and torture, but as a. painful purgatory in -which 
the sinner, even if infinitely slowly, becomes changed, 
and is at last ready to see Christ and to join the company 
of the saints in heaven. The anguish which souls feel 
in that place of torment drives them upwards by its 
own energy towards heaven ; they try to escape thither, 
but " they find heaven even more uncongenial than 
hell, so they return thither." But God, who is Love, 
enlightens them more and more even in hell. By His 
grace, and with the help of the saints in heaven, who 
carry on a redemptive work amongst them, the love of 
God gradually springs up in their hearts, and enables 
them finally to enter that heaven for which God created 

190 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

them. Even though this time of suffering should endure 
for millions of generations, at last they will " enter 
heaven like the Prodigal Son when he arose and came 
to his father.'* 

"When, at last, ihey have reached the goal, then they will rejoice 
and be rilled with than L fulness la God F though perhaps they will still 
be less happy than those who ItaVe accepted Christ on earth. Thill hell 
also is a train in g-sch">oJ, a place ot preparation for the ■eternal Home." 

In his opinion a very small number of souls (as, for 
instance, the devil himself, concerning whose fate the 
Sidhu was given no answer) will be shut out of heaven 
for ever. 

In one of his latest writings, Meditations on Various 
Aspccfi of the Spiritual Life, Sundar Singh expresses, 
though with some reserve, the thought of thean-ofcaTaorao-isr 
Q.irdvTu>v. In a special chapter he deals with the 
question : " Will all men at last return to God ? " His 
answer and the reasons upon which it is based are given 
in the following sentences : 

" If the Divine spark in the soul cannot be destroyed, then we need 
despair cf no sinner.'* "Since God has crested men to have fellowship 
with Ilim^k-'ltj they cannot for eveT be separated from Him." 

Li After long wandering, and by devious paths, sinful innn will at last 
return to Him in whose Image he was Created ; for this is his final destiny " 

In the book in which Sundar Singh speaks of his 
visions, he leaves the problem of everlasting punishment 
an open question. Yet the answers which he received 
from the heavenly beings leave very little doubt of his 
faith in the final salvation of all men- Obviously, this 
belief Is opposed to the traditional teaching of the 
Western Church, as well as to the general tendency of 
Christian mystical experience. The doctrine of ever- 
lasting punishment is not only part of the dogmatic 
theology of the Roman Catholic Church, down to the 

19' 



L 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

present day it is a dogma which Catholic theologians 
defend with great energy ; to a large extent it is an 
accepted article of the faith in popular Christianity, and 
an undisputed axiom with most Christian seers. Many 
Christian mystics indeed, as well as the Sidhu, have 
expressed the beautiful thought that the Love of God 
is at work even in hell. Thus St. Catherine of Genoa 
says : " God's loving-kindness and mercy shine even 
in hell, for God could have condemned the souls who 
are there, with absolute justice, to a far heavier punish- 
ment than that which they now endure." Catholic 
theologians, like the second founder of St, Sulpice, 
Abbe* Emery, 1 have tried to introduce the idea of a 
" lessening of the pain of the danmed." Sometimes, 
indeed, the old idea of the a.TraKa.Ta.aratTK airavrcav reappears 
in mystical theology. Thus the great English mystic, 
Jtdian of Norwich, says that if the teaching and meaning 
of Christ be true, then — in ways that God alone knows — 
"all will be well," But the idea that hell is a kind 
of purgatory (even though it may last for endless ages), 
which will, finally disappear, is hinted at in ancient 
times only by Clement of Alexandria, and clearly 
expressed by Origcn and his follower Gregory of Nyssa 
(and then indeed only as " esoteric " teaching). At 
the time of the Reformation the idea of the ajrowaTwrcwKf 
was attacked by Denk and the Anabaptists. Since the 
rise of rationalism it has been partially accepted by 
Protestant theology, probably because the doctrine of 
everlasting punishment was gradually losing its signifi- 
cance. It is worthy of note that the Sidhu, unaffected 
as he is by rationalistic influence, nevertheless does not 
seem to believe in the traditional doctrine of everlasting 
punishment. He may have absorbed something of 
the teaching of Mahayana- Buddhism, in which it is 

* Died iBii. 

191 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 



I 

suggested that the punishment of hell only endures 
for a definite span of time ; or he may have been influ- 
enced by the Koran, which, In a reflection on the state 
of the damned, contains this sentence : "God can do 
dl that which He wills to do." On this point, indeed, 
Sundar Singh finds himself in closer agreement with 
primitive Christianity than with the contemporary 
doctrine of the Western Church. 

To the SSdhu's mind, herwen and hell arc great 
eschatological realities ; this is not, however, the whole 
truth. Both states begin, not at the hour of death, but 
in this life. Like Jakob Bohme, Sundar Singh maintains 
that heaven and hell are already present in the hearts 
of men. 

" Heaven and hull ire two opposing spiritual saws which have [heir 
origin in the hearts, of men. Tw fojndacion for rheni is laid in this life*" 

But these states of mind are not purely interior ^ 
they arc mysteriously and secretly connected with the 
unseen world, 

" Sometimes, without any tangible cause, one feds a sense of joy or 
p.iin which is a ' touch ' from the 9pirilu.ll world; that is, from heaven 
or Hell. These ' touches * are continually casting their shadows upon 
ilit beam of men. Gradually this contact with one sphere or the Other 
■of the spiritual world become permanent. According to our good or 
our bad deeds and habits, we come onder tKe influence of one or the other, 
and this tendency derides our destiny. So, even in this world* the 
foundations of heaven and hell arc being laid, When, therefore, the 
aoul leaves the body ;u death it enters that sate for which it was pre- 
pared hurt on earfJi." 

The Sadhu's heart is already in heaven ; but whereas 
other religious souls have a foretaste of heaven only 
in the experience of inward peace, to him it has been 
given tn enter, even in this life, the " highest heaven," 
and there to have fellowship with Christ and with His 
elect. Deep as is the joy which he tastes in working and 
n 193 



L 



SADKU SUNDAR SINGH 

suffering for Christ, still deeper is his longing for the 
day when he may live eternally in that land to which 
he is now caught up in rare moments of ecstasy. 

M Tim i? the state where my heart is satisfied ? here I am completely 
at real. No sorrow, no pain, nothing hot love, streams of love, perfect 
bint* ind lliii to jII eternity- — not merely for a thousand years." " When 
I 1 10 ttten 1 nm utterly satisfied; in that state there is nothing kit to 
wish for. It h marvellous. It is our home," 



8. TH£ BlBLZ 

The Sadhu/s spiritual life is based wholly upon 
personal contact with the Living Christ, This inward 
peace which flows from the Presence of Christ is inde- 
pendent of all external guarantees of salvation ; it 
depends neither on sacramental symbols nor on a sacred 
book. " It is not because I read the Gospel that I 
know Christ, but because He revealed Himself to me." 
Even if the Bible were lost, Sundar Singh assures us 
that his fellowship with the eternal Christ would not be 
in the least impaired. (23) His spiritual experience has 
saved him from idolising the Bible as his earlier co-re- 
ligionists idolised the Cranth. Again and again the 
Sadhu points out that in order to enter into personal 
touch with Christ it is never sufficient merely to read 
the Bible ; prayer, not Bible-reading, is the true key 
to heaven. To him it is a fact of special significance 
that in contrast with other religious founders, even 
with the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles, 
Christ never wrote a single line Himself. 

" Other teachers who know that they will have to leave this world 
arc anxious that their teaching should continue to live in written form 
R l -I Till instruction is no longer possible. But Christ is quite different. 
He never dreamt of leaving us alone, and He will be with ua to the end 
of the world ; therefore He did not need to leave any written word 
behind. Then there is another reason why He wrote nothing. If He 

194 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

had written something in a boot, men would have bowed down and 
worshipped it, instead of worshipping the Lord Himself. God's Word 
is onljf a. hand stretched out EO poult the way to the Lord who js the 
Truth and the Life." " The Life and the Spirit of the Lord, can only 
be written in the hearts of men. and not in books.' 1 



Owing to his strongly mystical temperament, the SMhu 
does not lay the same stress upon the value of the Bible 
as Luther, who breaks out continually into almost defiant 
exultation over the " Word " (although Luther, at 
least in his younger days, never separates the Word 
from the Spirit). To the written word of God which 
is contained in the Old and the New Testaments, that 
" Word of God " must be added which the devout 
soul hears in its hours of quiet intercourse with the 
Saviour* When Sundar Singh was once asked by a 
German Missionary Secretary whether he would give 
the preference to personal revelation if it came to a 
choice between that and the written word, Sundar Singh 
answered very simply : " The same Lord who inspired 
the Scriptures is He at whose feet I sit " — a thought 
which reminds us once more of the Jmiialio Christi : 
" Ego, iucuii Dominus, docui prvphcias ab initio a usque 
nunc nan cesso omnibus l&prf" 

In spite of the fact that the Sadhu prizes personal 
fellowship with Christ in pntyer above everything else, 
the Bible is his daily bread of life. "Thanks to the 
mercy of God," he says, M I have found that it is the 
word of the Saviour which has vital power," The New 
Testament is his constant companion, the only possession 
which he carries about with him, excepting, of course, 
his saffron robe and his blanket. From this book he 
draws material for private meditation; ; and he finds 
it a continually renewed inspiration both in his prayer- 
life and in his work of public speaking, ' In this book 
there is everything one needs to know about the Saviour 

"95 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

of the world/' Indeed, the New Testament is the guide 
which has led him in the right way to Christ. In a lecture 
before the British and Foreign Bible Society he expressed 
to this Society his deepest thanks because it had given 
him the Gospel in his mother-tongue. To him, as to 
so many other Indian seekers, the Bible has been a guide 
to Christ. 

" God reveals Himself ever more and more through Hi* Holy Word 
to all who Seek Him with their whole heart." " The heralds of the 
Gospel cannot gQ everywhere, but God's Word can find an entrance 
everywhere . . , and it changen men. so thai the} 1 begin to love the 
Saviour, the World -Hcdeemcr." 

In his addresses he tells of wonderful conversions 
which have been caused by reading the New Testament, 
of persons who through the reading of God's Word 
" found the Saviour." " Thanks to the Word of God, 
thousands have had the same experience as I have 
had, and have hecome united with their Lord and 
Saviour.." The most remarkable of these conversions is 
the following : 

" Once," iaya Stindar Singh, u I was wandering through Central 
India. At one place I was speaking to i heathen audience about my 
Saviour, and 1 dosed ray address with the quritaon : ' Will fUa BW 
read the boot for yourselves which lells us about Jesus Christ?' How 
among my hearers there was an active opponent of the Christian religion. 
He bought £ copy of the Gospel of John, read two Or three Sentences, 
and then tore it into bits. The colporteur who had sold him the book 
was sad and discouraged, but I comforted him and reassured him 
thus : 4 Do not lose heart . . . one day something von- different will 
happen,' . . . Two years later I learnt the following : As the man 
who had torn up the Gospel of John got into the train he threw ttWKf 
the bits; at thai moment another man was walking across the platform 
who for seven years had heen earnestly seeking the Truth. He noticed 
the bits of paper lying on the ground, picked Up one of the pieces and 
read these words — ' eternal life.' Indian religion reaches the doctrine 
of the transmigration of souls, but what is "eternal life*.' On another 
piece he found the word) * Bread of Life.* What could that mean ? 
He showed the torn piece* to a passer-by, and added regretfully that it 

196 



1 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

was a pity that the book from which they came had been torn up. The 
latter replied : ' These words come from a Christian book ; don't read 
that surf" ; you will only be defiled.' However, this warning did not 
deter the man from going away at once and buying a New Teslament. 
He read it with the deepest eagerness, and became a convinced disciple 
of Jesus Christ. He found his Saviour, and in Him peace and joy. 
Later on he became a messenger of the Gospel in Central Jndia. So 
one i>f the torn pages became to another Soul tile Veritable Bread of Life. 

Sundar Singh is deeply convinced of the "wonderful 
power of the Bible." His childlike faith in the influence 
of Bible-reading is shown by the fact that he takes with 
him nn his missionary journeys for distribution whole 
copies of the New Testament as well as Gospel portions. 
When he finds hermits among the Himalayas who 
live in perpetual silence, shut up in their caves, he hands 
in through the tiny opening some pages of the New 
Testament, in the hope that they will convey to the 
rjrwellera within something of the Light of Christ. And 
yet the Sadhu is free from that external conception of 
the reading of the Bible which is current in some 
Protestant circles, and has no sympathy with the orthodox 
theory of verbal inspiration. For him the Bible is, 
throughput, a mystically inspired creation, "Those 
who wrote the Bible did not receive their inspiration 
by making notes, hut because they lived with the Word 
of Life." The Scriptures are " inspired " in the primitive 
sense of the word, " given by the Divine Spirit " : the 
authors wrote the sacred books " in the Spirit " — that 
is to say, in the state of inspiration, in ecstasy. In the 
opinion of Sundar Singh ecstatic experience alone can 
i Humiliate the mystery of the inspiration of the Scriptures. 
It is characteristic of all ecstatic experience that it is 
impassible to express this infinite Divine content in 
finite form, to express in human words the AppTjrov. 
Human speech is incapable of unveiling the mystery of 
Divine love which the ecstatic has experienced ; all 

*97 



L 



SADHU SUNDAY SINGH 

speech that attempts to utter something of die unfathom- 
able Divine wonder is like the uncertain lisping speech 
oJ ll thild. Sundar Singh thinks that this is the reason 
the Scriptures conceal such deep Divine thoughts under 
such an imperfect, meagre, human form. 

4h The Holy Spirit is the true author of the Holy Scriptures ; I do 
not mean by that that every Hebrew or Greek word is of Divine inspira- 
tion. Just as my clothes are not mt t so the words of the Scripture* .in: 
wily human word;. The language of everyday life cannot really express 
spiritual thing* in an exhaustive manner. Hence it is difficult for us to 
penetrate through the words to the spiritual truth. To those, however, 
wlnj are in touch with the author — that is, with the Ho]y Spirit — all is 
clear. Christ Himself says : ' Just as I clothed Myself in human form 
m order to redeem the human race, so My Word, which is spirit and life, 
is written in human language'; that is^ it unites divinely inspired and 
human elements." 

Thus the divine word of the Bible contains divine 
truth, which has been Spiritually perceived, in the 
imperfect form of human language. " Wc have this 
treasure in earthen vessels." *' Humble and mean 
are the swaddling clothes, but exceeding precious is 
the treasure which they conceal, even our Lord Christ 
Hcmsetf." r Just because the exterior covering is so 
imperfect, and the precious content something so different, 
it is useless to cling to the exterior. Those who desire 
to understand the meaning of God's Word must pierce 
through the outer covering till they find the hidden 
divine meaning. Only those who "live in the Spirit," 
like the holy men who wrote the book, are able to grasp 
the meaning of the words of the Bible. Similia similihus 
csgnosatntur,. Only when a man is in a similar spiritual 
state to that of the inspired writers (although this simi- 
larity may be very different in degree) can he really 
penetrate the mysterious meaning of the Scriptures. 
Because, therefore, spiritual things cannot be perceived 

■ Luther. 

198 



I 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

without meditation and prayer, meditation and prayer 
alone form the real key to the understanding of Holy 
Scripture, 

Christ speaks : " If yoti do not understand Mc, you cannot understand 
the Word of God. In ordtr to imdrtsund it tightly you do not need 
to know any GreeJt or Hebrew, but you must be in the communion 
of the Hofy Spirit, ol that Holy Spirit through whom the aposdes and 
prophets wrote. The language of the Word of God is spiritual ; only 
he who is born of the Spirit can rightly and completely understand it, 
whether he b a. scholar or a child." 

This Conception of the thoroughly mystical inspiration 
of the Bible explains why the SSdhu has such a marked 
preference for the " spiritual Gospel," the Gospel of 
John. It is the Gospel which he reads most often, and 
which he quotes most frequently. After the Gospel of 
John he draws most inspiration from the Epistles of 
St. Paul and from the book of Revelation ; he also 
quotes a good deal from the Synoptic Gospels, both 
words and stories of Jesus, Sometimes he uses the 
Very Words of prophets and psalmists to express his own 
experiences. The tales, too, of the Old Testament 
historical books are dear to him, and full of teaching ; 
particularly as an ecstatic and a visionary he has an 
immediate understanding of the childlike and realistic 
intercourse with God which marks the religious men 
of the Old Testament. 

Like all great Christian believers and men of God, 
the Sadhu explains and expounds the Bible according 
to his own personal experience of the power of the 
Gospel - y in the wonderful peace which Christ has given 
him, he finds the clue to the Scriptures. In this he 
reminds us of Luther, whose joyful faith in God's gift 
of salvation is the " Centre and foundation of the whole 
of Holy Scripture, according to which all the other 
parts of the book must be understood and explained." 

199 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

To the Sadhu, as to Luther, the Bible is a "book of 
comfort and of grace," "since all Scripture witnesses 
of Christ." But because the central thought of the 
Scriptures— Salvation, Peace, and blessedness in Christ — 
is emphasised in varying degrees in the different books 
of the Bible, it is therefore necessary " to make a dis- 
tinction between them, and to choose which are the 
best." ' As Origen and Augustine, Luther and Calvin 
loved the fourth Gospel, so the Sadhu also regards it 
as " the true core and centre of all the books," " the 
one tender, true, chief Gospel, far to be preferred above 
the other three Gospels/' The Gospel of John is indeed, 
in the opinion of Sundar Singh, the most valuable part of 
the Bible for all Indians, even for non-Christians, because 
in its phrase, " You in Me, and I in You," they catch 
echoes of a pantheistic motif of the Upanislnds and [hi- 
fi hagavadgita. But the Sidhu's love of the fourth Gospel 
is not in the slightest degree coloured by pantheism ; 
rather, like all great Christian saints, he loves it so much 
because he realises that the fourth evangelist beheld 
the mystery of the Godhead of Christ with the " eagle 
eye of the Spirit." When asked why he felt so strongly 
drawn to the Gospel of John, he replied : 

" John lay on the Master's breast. He had a warm hearr, and he 
did hoi convene simply in words, but rather heart to how* with Jcius. 
Therefore he understood Hiin better." " Si. John items to me to have 
loved Christ more than the other apostle*. The otheri a^ked questions 
and were satisfied when they received an answer from Jesus, but lie 
rested on Jesus' breast- I think he desired something that UTvitt'd heart 
with heart." That is why John, more than the others, " had a greater 
power of eipressiitg the inward and ptrnoiial relationship ol qui hearts 
with Christ." 

As John rested on the Master's bosom during the 
Last Supper, so, says Sundar Singh, must every Christian 

J Lutbcr. 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

test nn the Master's bosom when he reads the Scriptures. 
Only in the deep places of inward prayer does the meaning 
of the Word of God become clear ; "He who does not 
understand Me does not understand My Word," says 
Christ to the SSdhu. Only he who practises intimate 
fellowship with Christ, and who reads the Scriptures 
"at His Feet," knows by experience that "the flesh 
proftteth nothing," but that it is the "Spirit which 
maketh alive," and, like Peter at Capernaum, he says to 
Christ : " Thou hast the words cf Eternal Life." 

it. The Church and the Churches 

Sundar Singh's real home in this world is the experi- 
ence of ecstasy, in which he sees Christ face to face. 
Yet for him this experience is not, as it is to so many 
Christian and non-Christian mystics, a t^tv fiovau 
irpas ftavav — a " flight of the alone to the Alone." In 
ecstasy he does no. only enter into fellowship with 
Christ, but with the host of blessed spirits which surround 
Christ's throne. For him ecstasy is not only communis 
Christi but cvrnmumo sanctorum. M Here (in the third 
heaven),,'* he says, "is the true communion of saints, 
of which we speak, in the Apostles' Creed." Sundar 
Singh is no mere Christian individualist, feeling no need 
for fellowship with other souls, like Sebastian Franck 
and Sbren Kierkegaard \ all his thoughts and feelings 
arc governed by the idea of Christian fellowship. But 
the Church to which his heart belongs is no visible 
in->ti:LjL[cjn upon earth, bui the whole body ol those who 
belong to Christ, 

' L I belong To the Body of Christ, that is, to the trus Church, which 
is no material building, but the whole corporate body of true Christians, 
both those who are living here on earth and those who hive gone on 
into * the world of light," " 

201 






- 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

This is why from beginning to end the Sadhu regards 
the Church of Christ as the triumphant assembly of 
the saints in heaven, hidden from our earthly vision, 
yet truly existent, the antvstis urbs Jerusalem^ the oApdvos 
iKK\i)uia. This thought of the Church in heaven is not 
new ; centuries ago it filled the hearts of Clement of 
AU-xmdria and of Augustine with holy joy. It resounds 
through the whole rich liturgy of the Roman Catholic 
Church. " In that Mystery of Christ are present choirs 
of angels invisibly attending, the lowest is united with 
the highest, earth is joined with heaven, visible and 
invisible become one." But it is just these words of 
Gregory the Great in the Liturgy of the Church which 
reveal the difference between the classic idea of the 
Church as it exists in Western thought and the Sadhu's 
conception of the Church. The Sadhu does not in the 
least understand the great thought that the Church on 
earth, however imperfect she may be, is yet a reflection, 
a foreshadowing, and even a preparation for the Church 
in heaven. Sundar Singh is quite unable to grasp thr 
wonderful idea that beneath the veil of liturgical 
symbolism a mysterious union is even now possible 
with the heavenly assembly and Church of the firstborn, 
and this not only to Specially favoured souls through the 
medium of ecstatic experience, but to all Christians 
without exception. 

Since the Sadhu's chief attention is concentrated upon 
the Church in heaven, and since he sees in the Church 
on earth merely a number of individual Christians, he 
has never been able to see the full significance of the 
institutional element in the Church, neither from the 
theological, ecclesiastical, nor sacramental point of view, 
Clearly he does not disregard the necessity for member- 
ship in " the organised Church on earth " ; he hin:> II, 
En his own opinion, is technically a member of the 

202 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

Anglican Church in India. We never hear him saying 
Anything depreciatory about the organisation i>f the 
Christian Churches. Indeedj he accepts the existing 
Church order, and shows it by the way in which he 
refuses to baptise his own converts, whom he always 
sends on to the nearest mission station. Only very 
rarely, whether in Tibet or in the Himalayas, does he 
himself baptise anyone, and then only because he knows 
of no Christian missionary in the whole district. He 
Considers himself called solely to the proclamation of 
the Gospel and to witness for Christ, but he does not 
think that he has any vocation to administer the Sacra- 
ments. Again and again he expresses his respect for 
those who bear office in the Church. He only resigned 
his preacher's licence with the express permission of his 
Metropolitan, with whom he remained on terms of close 
friendship. When, during his stay in England, he took 
leave of the Archbishop of Canterbury, he knelt before 
him, according to the English custom, to receive his 
blessing. And when he wrote his book about his visions 
he particularly asked his diocesan bishop for a foreword. 
But in spite of the outward respect which he yields to 
Church authorities, so far as he himself is concerned 
he recognises no teaching authority, nor any kind of 
Church discipline. Like the great founder of" the 
Quakers, George Fox, he knows no other authority than 
that of the " Inner Light/' The immediate inward 
revelation vouchsafed to him in prayer and ecstasy is 
fiT him the only religious ground of certainty in 
matters of faith, in comparison with which both eccle- 
B$fc&tica] dogma and theological speculation occupy a 
Secondary position. 

" There are not enough men within, the Church who have a sufficiently 
deep spiritual eipcriencE to invest with final auuWiiy the ir— 1 — faffrl 
dogmas as they are now taught, Therefore I go straight to God Him- 

203 



SADHO SUNDAR SINGH 

self. ..." A revelation which [ have received in ecstasy is worth more 
to tlic than all traditional Church teaching. Ecclesiastic ism and Chris- 
tianity are not the same thing. John Wesley and General Booth followed 
the guidance of God in opposition to the Church, find events proved 
that they were right." 

Of the Papal claims Sundar Singh says : 

" So far aa the Popes are concerned I have a great respect for them 
as individuals " ; " but I do mot believe in the Pope as the Vicar of 
Christ and the successor of St. Peter. I find in him nt-jiher die inspiration 
and spirit of Christ nor of St. Peter. Christ Himself is always within 
His own, and St. Peter did not leave behind or appoint any successor, 
bat he taught that every true Christian, represents Christ on earth." 
" The met upon which Christ buitt His Church is riot Peter, but Christ 
Himself." 

Although the Sadhu is quite independent of outward 
Church authority in all his religious life, thought, and 
work, he recognises that this external authority has high 
pedagogical value for the majority of mankind, " As 
all are not mystics, the authority of ecclesiastical tradition 
remains necessary for most men." Thus Sundar Singh 
makes a distinction between two kinds of Christianity : 
a Church Christianity for the majority of men and a 
free Christianity of mystical souls who find their way to 
God along solitary paths. He makes his thought clear 
in a beautiful parable. 

" In the mountains the rushing streams make their own river bed 
along which they flow ; but in the pla ins men have to wnrk hard in m.i kt 
canals, in order thai the water may flow along them. It is just the same 
with those who Eva upon the heights with God. The Holy Spirit 
Litttairia through them ireely, while those who give little time to prayer 
and communion with God have to find their way with much labour and 
effort." 

Since the Sadhu recognises no ecclesiastical authority 
in his own life, but lives in unfettered communion with 
his Redeemer, his religious life does not really need the 

204 



I 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

help either of sacramental means of grace or of the 
fellowship of public worship. It is true that after his 
wonderful conversion he desired to be baptised in order 
to fulfil the will of Christ. Also in obedience to Christ's 
command he receives the Sacrament, as often as he has 
opportunity^ and that too in all Christian Churches, 
with the exception of the Roman Catholic ; indeed* he 
extals the blessing and power which flow from this 
Sacrament, But he does not give to the Eucharist 
that high place in the Christian life which it occupied 
in the early Church. Neither is he convinced of the 
Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament, according to 
Catholic or Lutheran doctrine ; he conceives it rather 
in a figurative and symbolical way — obviously under 
the influence of the Calvinistic view of the Sacrament 
which he would meet among Presbyterians and Evan- 
gelical members of the Church of England. 

" I do not believe th.it bread and wine really become the Body and 
Blood of Christ. But their effect upon the believer is as great as if it 
were jo." " In bread and wine there is nothing special. The Eucharist 
w n means of grace depends upon onr own faith/' 

Sundar Singh does not attach much importance to 
public worship because in his experience the heart 
prays better in solitude than in 3 congregation. Not 
even the silent worship of the Quakers seems to him to 
satisfy the needs of the prayer-life. Neither does he see 
any special support for the sense of the certainty of the 
Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic worship practised 
in the Roman Catholic Church, and now also to a large 
extent in the Anglican Church — in this he is in sharp 
contrast with the Catholic Sannytsi Brahmabandhav, 
who was an enthusiastic Sacramentalist and who used 
to spend hours before the Tabernacle in prayer. On the 
other hand, the Sadhu does not condemn the Adoration 

105 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

of the Blessed Sacrament ; indeed, he justifies the 
Eucharistic cult in these words : 

" I have no objection even to idolatry if it serves as a in L-ans of 
bringing men ti> Christ, ami if it nukes mental concentration and prayer 
easier," 

Sundar Singh's Ideal of prayer is not that of the 
liturgy in churchy nor of public worship in the meeting 
of believers, but rather the quiet prayer of the inner 
room or in the lonely solitudes of the hills, 

" II b quite natural that nn form of church service can ever satisfy 
deeply Spiritual people t because such persons already have direct fellow- 
ship with God in mediation,, and they are always coiucioas of His blessed 
Presence m their souk." " II" you cannot find Christ in the great congre- 
gation, go into your quiet room, and there you will find Him. In 
solitude God can speak tu us more easily than when we are among others. 
In the stillness of solitude, when the gaze of the heart is filed upon Christ, 
w. inn that peace lot which we long." 

In this passage Sundar Singh generalises from his 
own experience, and overlooks the fact that for many 
people the only ™ quiet room " they know is the House 
of God, and that for many, even for a Luther, the 
experience of public worship is exactly the stimulus, 
they need for the practice of private prayer. Further, 
there are many others, even among the greatest Catholic 
mystics, who find that the sight of the Host and of the 
Tabernacle as a quasi-sensible symbol of the Presence 
of Christ awakens the holiest and purest experience of 
prayer. The great primitive thought of the Church of 
Christ uniting in the liturgy in order to praise the 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, " as though with one 
mouth," and together " to call upon Him with one 
accord," is foreign to the Sidhu's mind. Canon Streeter 
has remarked with truth that Sundar Singh comes from 
" the classical land of hermits," Neither Brahmanism 

206 



I 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 
nor ancient Buddhism knew any cult of public worship ; 
and in Hinduism it occupies a very subordinate position : 
the ordinary people arc usually satisfied with doing pSjd 
(the private worship in the temple before the presence 
of the representation of the god); the ascetic, on the con- 
trary, gives himself up to sanMya, worship in silence and 
solitude. 

This hermit-temper comes out still more clearly in 
the Sadhu's apostolic activity. Sundar Singh evangelises 
entirely alone, not only without any ecclesiastical missio 
cancniea, but without any connection with a missionary 
society : " [ do not belong to any special society ; in 
this respect I am quite alone." While other great 
Indian religious men who had just as strong 3 tendency 
to solitude, Jina and Buddha, founded a sehglia, a 
Religious Order, with which an Order of Terthrics, or 
a Lay Brotherhood, was connected ; while Guru ffinak, 
the founder of Sundar Singh's previous religion, created 
a religious community ; while St. Francis of Assisi, 
whom he honours so highly, called into existence a great 
jmtcmilas, the Sadhu has never felt any desire to gather 
around him a fellowship of like-minded people, who 
could help him in his difficult mission work. " St. 
Francis felt himself called of God to found an Order, 
but I do not feel called to do so." In spite of the fact 
that some four hundred young men have begged him 
to accept them as his disciples, he has steadily sent 
them away ; in his preaching of the Gospel, too, he is 
usually alone, although now and again he may happen 
to fall in with like-minded people with whom he wanders 
about and preaches. 

This decided individualism merges, however, into 
the universal spirit, more pronounced in him than in the 
experience of other outstanding Christian men. In 
the Sidhu the saying of Jakob Bohmc comes true : " A 

207 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Christian has no sect ; he may live in the midst of the 
sects, and attend their services, but he belongs to no 
sect." lust because the Sadhu belongs to no special 
Christian denomination, because, aa he says of himself, 
he belongs " to all those who belong to Christ,' 1 he is 
able to serve all with his message. " I am free to go 
everywhere ; for me there are no ecclesiastical barriers." 
There is no other instance in Christie Church history 
of a man of his calibre who has preached the Gospd 
in so many Christian churches and communities : 
among Nestnrians and Jacobites, Syrians and Copts, 
among Anglicans and Presbyterians, Congregatlonalists 
and Methodists, Lutherans and Reformed^ Baptists 
and Quakers. And although the Roman Catholic 
Church is the only one that has refused him the use of 
its pulpits, yet countless Latin Christians have sat at his 
feet to hear him give his witness to Christ. 1 Sundar 
Singh has brotherly fellowship with all Christian con- 
fessions, 

" In all the Christian churches where Christ is loved 1 feel rnyselt 
■mong brothers ; wherever I find true Christians, tfacn 1 can say thai 
although their customs and organisations are strange 1 feel myself at 
home with them." " Christianity is neither a society nor a church, ii 
ii Christ Himself. Those who live with Christ blow [hat He Himsell 
it the whole of Christianity." 

Because Christ is all in all to the Sadhu, it seems to 
him that the interior unity of al] Christians is an obvious 
fact. When he was talking with that great champion 
of Christian unity, Archbishop Soderblorn, he said : 
" [n the deep places of the soul, and in prayer, all Christ- 
ians are one ; "in Christ we all speak one language, 
which is sufficient for us all," Since his sense of tha 

i lie Has never camp bine it of this Church for its altitude toututu Iisnl , 
rccoBpisirig that its ecclesiastical principles would nut permit IliiD to preach 
within it! borders. 

208 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

interior unity is so strong, he lays no emphasis upon the 
divisions and differences within Christianity ; he regards 
them as unimportant, tn his opinion the existence of 
so many different Churches and Confessions reveals a 
remnant of caste spirit in the midst of Christianity ; 
he compares the Indian caste system with the divisions 
in the Anglican Church, "High" and "Low" re- 
spectively ; as he said frankly to the English Primate, 
" Christ wouJd not have made such differences amongst 
you." 

" Seels arc curious and superfluous things. There is only one God — 
then why so man; Churches. 1 Wherefore Mich jtrife ? It seems to 
me that this is the fault of tile world. 2f all frcets were to unite into one 
there would be no more world, there would only be heaven." " 1 often 
sav to myself when I sec Christians who cannot live together in concord 
during this short earthly life, how vriff they live together during the 
whole of eternity ? " 

Sundar Singh thinks and lives in the great thought of 
Christian unity. As an English newspaper put it : " He 
teaches the people of the West the real Catholic spirit 
with the lips of the East." But as this unity is something 
purely interior, rooted in Christ, he has no faith in 
external attempts to federate or fuse the different Churches 
into one. 

" I do not believe that the union of Catholics and Protestants would 
accomplish a great deal. When you mil two colours you get a third ; 
so if Catholics and Protestants unite you will bare to be prepared to see 
a host at new sects and varieties arise. I do not believe in unions which 
arc artificially engineered. External unity is futile. Those alone who 
are united in Christ ate really one in Him and will be one in heaven." 
" True Christians mtis; be united in spirit, however greatly they differ 
in their way of worshipping God. I am no believer in an ci cental 
artificial unity ; I believe only in the interior union of hearts and souls." 



In Sadhu Sundar Singh we are confronted with the 
spectacle of a great Christian believer who is so immersed 
o 209 









SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

in Christ that the Church with all its organisations and 
regulations is a lesser matter, 

" I do not bclicPc in any particular Church, whether Catholic or 
Protestant, bur I believe [n the Hody of Christ ; that is, in the corporate 
fellowship of true saints and believers." " I do not value the Church 
&s iucli, but I set great store by Chris tun icy, which to me means Jcmis 
Chri*C. In answer to the question ' To which Church do you 
belong 1' 1 always reply: "To none. I belong to Christ. That is 
enough for Me." 

These sentences give the dearest idea of his ecclesiasti- 
cal position. Indeed,, in such words we almost catch an 
echo of the ancient: Christian axiom: ""Onou avy Xptmo-1 
'/naoiJi, htel ij KaSaXutTj eVkAijo-ui " (" Where JcSUS Christ 

is, there is the Catholic Church "). Nevertheless, there 
is a slight difference. The classic exponents of the 
Christian idea of the Church do not conceive of the Church 
in quite as spiritual a maimer as Sadhu Sundar Singh ; 
they Jej not separate to the same extent the visible from 
the invisible Church. For them the Church — and they 
include in this term the visible, institutional Church — 
is the 1 ' extension of the life of Christ, 1 * Christ's " mystical 
Body/* His beloved "'Bride," the "Virgin Mother of 
the Faithful." It is not only the ancient Church Fathers 
who speak like this, foremost among them Augustine, 
the herald of the great thought of the Catholic Church, 
but Luther also sings the praises of the Church as " the 
Mather who bears and nourishes each Christian soul 
by the- Word of God," Indeed, he even accepts and 
uses Cyprian's phrase (as also did Calvin), extra ecchsiam 
nulla talus* " In this one Church every soul that desires 
to be saved must find a place, and become part of the 
body corporate, for apart from her no one will be 
saved." Sundar Singh speaks continually of the ever- 
living Christ ; the parting words of the Risen Lord : 
" Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the 
210 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

world," are very dear to him, and he quotes them con- 
stantly. But he sees this endless life going forward 
solely in the interior and exterior life of the individual 
Christian, and not in the wide fellowship of the Church. 
He is deeply imbued with the sense of the value and 
reality of the Incarnation ofthe Son of God ; in wonderful 
parables he proclaims the great paradox that the King of 
Glory came and lived on earth in such poor human guise. 
But he does not see that this Incarnation, this Keaosh t 
is continued in Christ's mystical Body, the Church, 
In a passage of considerable beauty Clement of Rome 
speaks of the mystery of the eternal character of 
Christ's Incarnation. " I believe that ye know indeed 
that the Living Church is the Body of Christ. , , . 
The Church, like our Saviour, was spiritual, but in 
the last days He manifested Himself in order that He 
might redeem us. Therefore the Church also, which is 
spiritual, was manifested in Christ's Flesh, thus making 
it clear that, if any of us cherishes and does not destroy 
this mystery in the Flesh (ev tq eupxC) he will under- 
stand it in the Holy Ghost ; for this Flesh typifies 
(avriTv-rms) the Spirit, and no one who destroys the type 
will be able to see the original picture (<xv&wt,Kov), 
Therefore, brethren, saith the Lord : ' Preserve the 
flesh, that yu may inherit the Spirit.' But if We say 
that the Flesh is the Church and the Spirit is Christ, 
then he who sins against the Flesh sins against the 
Church, and such an one can have no part in the Spirit, 
which is Christ/' 1 

Sundar Singh's predecessor, Brahmabandhav, saw 
further into this mystery when he wrote : " There is 
only one fact which approaches the greatness of the 
Incarnation, and that is the founding of the Catholic 
Church in the Upper Room at Jerusalem." 
■ Ad, Cor, aiv. t ff. 






1 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Friedneh von Hugely the idealistic, broad-minded 
defender of the Catholic ideal of the Churchy has pointed 
nut this Jack in Sundar Singh's life and thought in these 
impressive words : 

" The Sadhu accept the foundation of lite Church quite limply, 
quite realistically; he accepts the Incarnation, the descent of the Bon 
of Cod from heaven into space and time, quite purely and iimply, yet 
how great a matter this is ! Further, he regards the heroic pole of the 
Church — the monastic life— quite simply and realistically. He has, 
indeed, quite an erqnisite Sense of the way in which Christianity, viewed 
from one aspect, is essentially heroic and ascetic, though not in any way 
rigid or severe. He ajjo shows s, real recognition and Jove for iiic 
domestic pole of the Church, when he cherishes a tender love for his 
wonderful Mother, and when he exhorts most of the converts won 
through his kboura to continue her life and her Work although in a WW 
Spirit. Once more, how great a matter this is J But he finds It impossible 
to accept quite simply, quite realistically, a concrete historic Church, 
which would include the (bun da lion of the Church which he already 
accepts in such a concrete historic way, and contains within itself the 
power of furUier revelation. He holds firmly to the fact of the Incar- 
nation without affirming the * extension of the Incarnation,* which is the 
view, strongly held and affirmed, of countless jaints in the past." 

There is another point brought out by Friedrich von 
Huge] which throws light on the Sadhu's one-sided 
position with reference to the Church, Sundar Singh 
is a pattern of humility, as all who have seen and heard 
him can witness. But he does not manifest this humility' 
by submitting himself to the doctrine of the whole 
Church. According to Catholic-thinking (and not 
merely Roman Catholic) Christians the complete ideal 
of Christian humility includes this aspect. 

I n another place Friedrich von Hllgcl says very 
beautifully : 

" We can trace a certain incompleteness in a man's humility, so lonp 
a* it consists of humiliation before God alone, and as it claims to derive 
all its religious help without any mediation of the senses and of society 
purely spiritually from the Infinite PiJlr Spirit atone. Complete humility 
impenttivejy demands my continuous recognition of my own multiform 

sua 






THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

need of my fellow-creatures, especially of those wiser and better than 
myself, and of my lifelong need of training, discipline, incorporation ; 
iiiJ] humility requires filial obedience towards mcti and institutions as 
WeJ] as fraternal give and take, and paternal authority and superintendence:/' 

Not that the Sadhu in any way lacks this kind of 
humility. His readiness not only to give, but also to 
receive, to speak not only of his own experiences, but 
also to leatn from the experiences of others, revealed 
itself over and over again in his intercourse with Western 
Christians. 

" No one -can ever say : * I know enough, I do not need to learn from 
others' W c arc learning every day, and as I learn every day from those 
whom I meet in the East, so also I leant from my brethren in the West." 

The Sidhu lacks, however, the sense of being fully 
incorporated into the great organism of the whole Church, 
the contact with the age-long tradition of the Christian 
Church, the acknowledgment of the quod iemper t quod 
ubique^ qtwd ab ommhus crediium tst. That is why he has 
no understanding of the great symbol of historical and 
institutional continuity of the Church : the episcopal 
successio aposto/Ua, but he expresses himself about it in 
quite a Donatist vein : 

" I do not believe in the doctrine of Apostolic Succession. . . , The 
true spiritual succession has been interrupted several Times, because not 
all tie consecrated Bishop and Popes were consecrated by the Holy 
Spirit.** 

Like Indian Rishis and most Christian individual- 
ists, he considers personal experience of salvation the 
only criterion of religious truth. This is the only way 
in which we can understand why he affirms his own 
mystical experiences over against all the teaching and 
tradition of the Church. Very many of the Christian 
saints of the ancient days, of the Middle Ages, and 
of more recent times, had ecstasies and visions like 

213 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the Sadhu, but none of them would have dared to lay 
greater stress on his own personal revelations than on 
the ecclesiastical tradition. This comparison is not 
intended as a reproach to the Sadhu 's piety, which r. 
wonderfully illuminating in its certainty and sureness ; 
it only shows that other great Christian saints had a 
more inclusive ideal of humility. It is, however, a In ! 
that this radical individualism presents a real dangu 
to the sanity and balance of the spiritual life, which 
smaller souls than the Sadhu might easily find too much 
for them, ]n his own case, as Sftderblom has pointej 
out, this danger is averted by his familiarity with the 
New Testament. 

Sundar Singh's attitude towards the Conception of 
the Church reveals a slight one-sktedness. This one- 
sided ncss can be explained by the fact that he came 
out of the individualistic spiritual world of Hinduism, 
and that at first he only came into contact with the more 
individualistic forms of Christianity, i.e. the more Pro- 
testant forms of Presbyterian ism and Low-Chunli 
Anglicanism, so that, as Zacharias the Catholic convert 
puts it : " in him Protestant and Hindu individualism 
met,, and mutually strengthened each other," Certainly 
Sundar's personality is so rich, so deep, so loving, that 
it could nut be more attractive if it were more ecclesiasti- 
cally minded, least of all in India. But those who Study 
the saints of the early Church and of the Middle Ages, 
and see how their deep and rich personal piety was 
balanced and completed by their Catholic sense of the 
Church, will see that they represent a fuller ideal than 
that which has been given to the Sadhu cither to perceive 
or to carry out. But where could he have found the 
Church in whose fellowship he could have carried out 
his high calling to the life of a Sadhu ? This is the great 
problem which Fricdrich von Hugel tries to solve in a 
314 



I 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 



remarkable letter to Canon Streeter. Neither the Angli- 
can nor the Presbyterian nor the Roman Catholic Church 
could have possibly been to htm a spiritual home, at 
least in the form in which they at present exist and 
work in India ; in none of them could he have exercised 
his apostolic vocation in the large and all-embracing 
way in which he works in India and the neighbouring 
countries, h is not the fault of the Sadhu, but of the 
Christian Churches, that he has been unable to grasp 
the full meaning of the idea of the Church. Thert: can 
be no doubt that his ecclesiastical position is God's 
will for him. The very fact that Sundar Singh— this 
large-hearted* humble, loving apostle, cannot fully 
belong to any one of the Christian Churches shows 
more clearly th;m anything else the present need of 
Christendom in al] its depth and breadth. Has the 
true Church ceased to exist ? Since the great schism 
of the sixteenth century there has been no Universal 
Church in which apostles and saints like the Sadhu 
could find a home. Like him, they have to take 
refuge in the Church Triumphant. But painful as. is 
the feeling which creeps over men like Fricdrich von 
Hugel when they are brought face to face with the 
Sadhu's attitude to the Church, it is comforting and 
cheering to reflect that this disciple of Christ can speak 
to the members of all the Churches, and that his message 
was welcomed by all. His proclamation of the Gospel 
sounds like a perpetual repetition of the High Priestly 
prayer, " Ut omnei unum" like a significant prophecy 
of the coming unity of divided Christendom. 

10. Christianity and Heathenism 

Both in his own spiritual life and in his message, 
Sundar Singh is strongly Christocentric ; like Paul, 

215 



- 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Augustine, and Luther, he finds in Christ his Alpha 
and his Omega \ he knows no other God save the God 
who is revealed in Christ. But in spite of the fact that 
Christ fills his whole heart and his whole life, his outlook 
is far removed from that narrow and loveless attitude 
towards non-Christian religions which characterises sr> 
much of Christian orthodoxy. "' The whole world lies 
in darkness ; only one ray of light shines upon this sea 
of darkness, the Figure of the Historic Jesus of Nazareth ; 
the only point in the whole of world history which has 
the divine approval is Golgotha " — such and similar 
sentiments which one can hear — strangely enough — 
even to-dsiy from the professorial chairs of German 
universities, would be impossible to the Sadhu. He 
could never deny to all non-Christians any possibility 
of ever entering heaven, as Christian Protestant theo- 
logians still do so easily, just because he is impregnated 
with the sense of the infinite Love and Mercy of God 
it is a central article in his creed that God wills the 
salvation of all men. M God wills that all men should 
be Saved and come to the knowledge of the truth " — the 
Sadhu's heart is full of this New Testament thought. 
" Redemption is for all races and peoples in the whole 
world." When at one time he was .much exercised 
about the fate of non-Christians, he received this answer 
in ecstasy : " If there were no hope for all the non- 
Christians in the world f then God would cease to create 
any more human beings," "Very few will be lost, 
but many will be saved. So is it," 

Next to these inward revelations rank the outward 
experiences which the Sadhu has had with Indian 
religions and with Christianity, All that he has experi- 
enced in his own life and on his missionary journeys is 
a vital study in comparative religion. He has had a 
rare opportunity of comparing Christianity with the 

216 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

other non-Christian faiths. But this comparison ha* 
had results very different from the theoretical enm pan- 
sons of Western theologians. While the latter often see 
nothing but light on the side of Christianity^ and on 
the heathen side sheer darkness and night, relieved 
only by a few faint rays of light, the Sadhu sees 
light and darkness on both sides. Deep shadows 
brood over the life of Western Christendom, while 
in the lives of Indian "seekers" for the truth there 
are sparks of Divine light, Sundar Singh speaks with 
a certain irony of " so-called Christians " and 14 so- 
called heathen," 



" People call us heathen," he said in conversation with the Archbishop 
of Up*a|a, ** Just fancy 1 my mother a heathen ! If she were alive 
now she would certainly be a. Christian. But even while she followed 
her ancestral faith she Was so religious that llie term ' heathen ' makes 
me smile. She prayed to God, she served God, she loved God, far 
more warmly and deeply than many Christiana. So far as I can see, 
there are many more people among us in India who lead a spiritual life 
than in she West, although they do not know or confess Christ. They 
live truly according to the light which God hds given them. . . > Here 
you have the Sun of Righteousness, but how many among you care about 
It ? People here live only for this world 1 . . . . Among us in India 
there are many, many, who lead a holy life. Christian! have received 
from God as a Gift a priceless treasure, even Christ! and yet many of 
them cannot give up their worldly life, hut both their hearts and their 
hands arc full of worldly things. Indians forsake the world and deny 
theruselves, although, they have not received this treasure from God f " 
The ' heathen ' do not seek for days or month? only, they go on seeking 
earnestly and aniiously for the truth for years at a time " ; H daring 
this search they have to suffer many things." '"' But you Christians get 
tired in ten minutes." The nominal Christians in these countries call 
the people in non-Christian buds * heathen. 1 And it if, of course, true 
that the people who live there do worship idol? ; hut here people worship 
themselves, and thai is still worse. Idol -worshippers seek the truth, 
but people over here, so far as I can see, seek pleasure and comfort." 
4,1 The people ol the West have sought and found science and, philosophy. 
They understand how to use electricity and how to fiy in the air. The 
men of the East have Sought the truth. Of the three Wise Men who 
went to Palestine to s*e Jesus not one was from the Wear." 

217 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

The life of the SSdhu has been full of the most sur- 
prising experiences. He himself has found in Christian- 
ity that which he could not find, though he sought for 
years, in his ancestral faith : peace, joy, and blessedness. 
And yctj to his great disappointment, he has been forced 
to see that for most of its. followers Christianity is not 
that which it is to him ; indeed, that most of those who 
bear the Christian name are far behind the so-called 
1,1 heathen " of his native land in spiritual depth and 
religious eamcstncsSi 

" There used to be, and there still are, in India men 
who live in God without knowing Christ ; that is, they do 
not know His Name." *' To a certain extent God has 
allowed countless sincere souls in India to find Him." 
It is this personal experience which, in addition to the 
thought of the Eternal Christ, has led him to a wonder- 
fully broad and deep Conception of non-Christian 
religions, such as is attained by very few Western 
theologians. The sphere of revelation of the Divine 
Logos — the Christ — -includes far more than the New 
Testament story of Redemption, with its Old Testament 
Prologue. " He is the Light which lighteneth every 
man coming into the world." 

"The Living Christ reveals Himself to every man according to hia 
need." " Nan- Christian thinkers also have been illuminated by th... 
Sun o£ Righteousness. Indians have received the Holy Ghost. . . . 
Jim M every soul that lives breathes in the air, so ever/ soul, whether 
Christian or non-Christian, breathes in the Holy Spirit, even when ha 
knows ii noL" 

Indeed, Sundar Singh goes still fanner ; like the most 
broad-minded and most daring of Christian thinkers, 
he sees traces of God's revelation not only in the religious 
experiences of non-Christian religious men, but also in 
the non-religious aspects of the intellectual life of 
humanity, in science and philosophy, in poetry and art. 

218 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

" Truth has many sides. Each person individually, according to the 
capacities God has given him, reveals different sides of the truth, and 
gives them expression. , , . A tree may attract otic person on account 
of its fruit, and another because of its beautiful blossoms. ... In the 
same way the philosopher, the scholar, the poet, the painter, and the 
mystic, each according to his capacity and in his own way, declares and 
describes the various aspects of Divine Reality which have made an 
impression upon lucn. For the individual it is impossible, however, to 
have 3 comprehensive conception of Divine Reality, and to make it known 
in its many-sidedness." 

The same Sadhu who never tires of proclaiming to 
the whole world the revelation of God in Christ differs 
from many Christian theologians of the West in this ; 
he does not narrow down the Divine Revelation to the 
Historical Jesus. Like the far-seeing ancient Christian 
apologist Justin Martyr, like the great Alexandrian 
teacher Clement, like the author of the Summa tfieokgira, 
and the modern theologian Schleiermacher, Sundar 
Singh sees Divine revelation in the whole religious and 
non-religious spiritual and intellectual realm. The 
history of religion, as of the intellectual life, is a kind of 
stairway which leads up to the mystery of the Incarnate, 
Crucified, and Risen Christ. Everywhere the Eternal 
God opens up to us His infinite love and grace, but 
nowhere in the whole world is this mercy so clearly seen 
as in the life and sufferings of His Son. Everywhere 
the Logos is at work, illuminating, guiding, helping 
and healing, sending out His beams in all directions, 
but in the Incarnate, Risen, and Ever-living Christ 
these radiant beams arc focused into one dear and 
burning flame. 

" We in India," says the Sadhu, " knt'W already that God ia good. 
But m did no! know that He was so good that Chris E was willing to die 
for ua." M There is mudl that is beautiful in Hinduism, hut the highest 
light comes from Christ." " To some crtent God satisfies all desire for 
Himself, hut lull .satisfaction is only found in Chrisl"; "he who finds 
Him finds Heaven upon earth." 

219 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Since the light of the Eternal Word to some extent 
illuminates the non-Christian religions, they also are a 
preparation, a schoolmaster, to lead to Christ. "What 
the Law was to the Jews and Platonist philosophy to 
the Greeks, the wisdom of the Vedas and of the 31st ras 

is tO the people of India, a -natBayivyos ■& Xpurrw. 

Brahmabandhav Upaidhyaya, the enthusiastic champion 
of Vedantic philosophy, has said : " The end of the 
Vedanta is faith in Christ, the Son of God." The Sadhu 
tells of a Pandit whom he learnt to know in North 
India. He used to give lectures upon the Sacred Books 
of India, and on one occasion he closed with these sig- 
nificant words: " The Vedas reveal to us the necessity 
for redemption from sin, but where is the Redeemer ? 
Prajapati, of whom the Vedas speak, is Christ, who 
gave His life as a ransom for sinners." When his 
hearers expressed their astonishment at these words, he 
said : " I have a greater faith in the Vedas. than you 
have because I believe in Him whom the Vedas reveal, 
even in Jesus Christ." Sundar Singh expresses the 
same thought in beautiful pictorial language : 

"The Wise Men followed (Tie Star w Bethlehem. But when the)' 
reached Bcllik-htni th*y no longer needed the Star, for they had .found 
Christ, the Sun of KiffateoiUBeS*. When the sun rises the stars tote 
their radiance." " In India wt have many genuine truth-seekers, who 
faithfully follow dinar Star ; but h is only starlight which guides the™. 
But you Christians have the glory pf the Sun." " Hinduism and 
Buddhism have dug canals, but ihey have no living water to fill them." 
" In this sense I was prepared tu receive the Living Water tram Christ." 
" Christianity is the fulfilment of Hinduism." 

In simple language Sundar Singh has expressed the 
deep truth which the study of Comparative Religion 
brings out ever more clearly i the universal revelation 
of God through the history of mankind and His unique 
revelation in Christ is deeply rooted in the supreme 
breadth arid height, fullness and purity of the Chris.fi.iii 
220 



THE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT-WORLD 

religion. It is that rich and ancient truth which the New 
Testament states so clearly and convincingly : 

" Goct has never left Himsellf without a ivjnicM." " To the Gentile* 
also has the Holy Ghost been (riven." " And the Word became flesh 
and dwelt among us, arid we beheld His Glory, the Glory U of the 
Od» -begotten from ihc Father, foil of grace and truth." " And of Hi* 
grace have WB all n-ecived, and grace for grace." 



Part V 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

i. His Position in the History of the Christian Religion 

THE Sadhu is an eminently creative religious 
personality. However closely he may be related 
to other great spirits in the Christian succession, 
his religious thought and life are nevertheless entirely 
original and fundamentally his own. It is quite ini].. 
sible to say that he belongs to any particular school of 
Christian thought. It would be quite as mistaken to 
class him with the medieval mystics as with the reformers 
of the sixteenth century ; neither can we place him 
among the ancient martyrs and confessors of primitive 
Christendom any more than among the great mission- 
aries of the Western Church in ancient or in modern 
times. Tn his inner life he is most closely related to 
the family of Christian mystics. His love of solitude 
and contemplation, his steady practice of meditation 
and reflection, his theocentric method of prayer, his 
frequent visions and ecstasies, his conceptions of heai i n 
— all these things point in the direction of mysticism. 
The fact that he unites a strenuous life of work in [In- 
service of the brethren with a rich Contemplative CXJM 
rience does not lessen his right to be Called a mystic ; 
indeed, it is a supreme mark of the Christian mysti 
to be able to combine the vita eontemptoliva with thu 
vita activa, the vichiiiu dines tmctae quwiis ac rtccesiaruu 
actioHts, as Bernard of Clairvaux so beautifully puts \\ 
But it is a striking fact that a mind like his,, which hi | 
so much in common with the Christian mystics, should 
yet be in such close agreement with Martin Lurtnt, 

121 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

who was the very opposite of a mediaeval mystic in his 
conception of the central doctrines of Christianity, of 
Christ and salvation, of faith and works. Sundar's 
self-denying life of poverty and celibacy is entirely in 
line with the monastic ideal, as that is understood in 
the Catholic Church ; on the other hand, he has no 
room in his Ideal of service for the third consslia evangeliea, 
the counsel of Obedience, involving voluntary submission 
to a monastic Rule and to a monastic Superior as God's 
representative. 

In his sense of eternal values, in his unceasing sur- 
render to the supernatural world, in his transcendent- 
alism, and in his vital contact with the communis 
sanc/arum, Sundar Singh is in harmony with the Catholic 
conception of Christianity expressed in its dogma, its 
liturgy, and its ethical system. Yet m his freedom 
from all ecclesiastical authority, and in his strong 
emphasis on the authoritative character of inward 
experience as the only basis of certainty, he is entirely 
Protectant, and essentially Lutheran. It is no mere 
coincidence that he speaks with such enthusiasm of 
Martin Luther, " that wonderful Reformer and man of 
God," In one sense Sundar Singh might be described 
as more Protestant— that is, more spiritual — than the 
Reformers in that he lays less emphasis upon the objective 
authority of the " Word of God." Again, Sundar Singh 
is deeply Catholic, and poles apart from Protestant 
orthodoxy in the universality and breadth with which 
he affirms the elements of truth and revelation in non- 
Chriirian religions. On the other hand, he is typically 
Protestant and almost Pietistic in the stress he lays on 
the need for conversion to Christ, and in his continual 
emphasis on his personal religious experience. 

Is it, then, right to describe the personality of the 
Sddhu as a peculiarly classic example of a synthesis of 

113 



1 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

ecstatic mysticism with evangelical assurance, of Catholic 
and Protestant piety ? The Sadhu is, however, far ton 
simple arid original to allow us to- speak of him in terms 
like " synthesis," or of the fusion of different types of 
piety. He comes from the land of religious syncretism, 
but he does not belong to that Sphere at all. His 
whole nature is so simple, everything has grown up so 
naturally, and springs spontaneously From within him- 
self. One can only describe his religious personality 
as a primitive unity. His piety is therefore best charac- 
terised as early Christian, because in the early Church 
those divisions which led to schism later on were Mill 
harmonised within the organic life of the whole body 
of Christians. De Grandmaison, a Jesuit, puts it very 
aptly when he says that the Sidhu's piety is M evangelical 
Christianity which has not developed beyond the 
Patristic period." The distinguishing mark of this 
Indian apostle of Christ is a spontaneous and naive 
revival of the spirit of early Christianity. It is just 
because we see that this revival of the early Christian 
spirit is so unconscious and unplanned that we realise 
that all attempts to fit the Sadhu into any of the EatCf 
forms of Christian ecclesiastical organisation are quite 
useless. 

The element which differentiates Sundar Singh'f 
piety from that of most Christian mystics is the com- 
plete absence of any kind of formal teaching on 
"degrees" in the spiritual life, of any kind of $e*k 
paradisL It is true that the " spiritual ladder " taught 
by most Christian mystics is something far more vital 
than that of Indian Yogis and Buddhists, But the- lui 
that the Sadhu uses no terms of mystical classified inn, 
nether Christian nor Indian, shows very plainly thai 
his mind is childlike and simple, never dreaming >\ 
analysing the inner religious life, Closely allied to thli 

214 






THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAE SINGH 
simplicity is the absence of all mystical technique of the 
mind, such as has been elaborated by the Indian Yogis 
and some more recent Western mystics. It is significant 
that the exercuia spiritualia of Ignatius Loyola have 
been no help to the Sadhu in his prayer-life. It is no 
less striking that the symbol of the Bride, so much 
loved by many Christian mystics, is practically entirely 
absent from his thinking, and has no meaning either 
for his persona] life or for his message. It is only 
when he refers to his voluntary celibacy that he ever 
says that he is betrothed to Christ. In this respect, 
too, we notice the decidedly Biblical character of his 
religious thinking, that peculiarly childlike yet virile 
spirit which is so striking an element in the personality 
of Luther. Finally, in contradistinction to the Vedan- 
tists and Neo-Platonists, as well as to many Christian 
mystics (Dionysius the Areopagitc, Eckhart, Catherine 
of Genoa, Angelus Silesius), he rejects quite decidedly 
those conceptions of union with God which involve the 
idea of " deification." Although he often speaks of the 
possibility of the soul becoming like God, he is very 
firm in his assertion that union with God consists in 
the personal act of faith, " Through faith we are in 
God and God is in us. But God remains God, and we 
remain His creatures." 

_ It is in his naive and childlike spirit that the Sadhu 
differs from so many Christian mystics ; and yet in 
this respect he does not go so far as Luther. This 
point comes out most clearly in Sundar's spiritual 
conception of prayer, which is in strong contrast with 
Luther's broad and rather concrete ideas. Whereas the 
Sadhu only regards « type of prayer as truly Chris- 
tian — that is, the prayer for God Himself— Luther 
considers that the essence of Christian prayer consists 
in childlike petition for material and spiritual gifts, in 
* 225 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

a spirit of confident assurance based on the Divine 
Promises. Surprising as the agreement between Sundar 
Singh arid Martin Luther may be in other directions, 
here there is no less great a gulf than that between the 
great reformer and the mediaeval mystics. This con- 
trast of religious temperament reveals itself in another 
respect. Luther, like other Reformers, is above all a 
fighter, a man who feels that he has to defend the 
rights of the Gospel against an apostate Church, just 
as the Old Testament Prophets had to fight for a pure 
monotheistic faith against a flourishing and popular 
polytheistic religion. This accounts for their one- 
sideduess and exclusiveness, their intolerance and harsh- 
ness. Sundar Singh, on the contrary, is the very 
embodiment of the peace of Christ ; nothing is so 
foreign to his spirit as strife, protest, and controversy. 
He is a preacher of the Gospel, a witness to Christ, 
without any spirit of aggressiveness. He is a shining 
incarnation of an evangelical Christianity, which differs 
from that of the Reformed Churches in that it is not 
exclusive but inclusive in spirit. It is no less signifuani 
that this evangelical Christianity of the Sadhu includes 
those primitive Christian ideals of the monastic life 
which the Reformers so hotly rejected on account of 
their supposed tendency to faster a legal and self- 
righteous spirit : the ideals of poverty and celibacy. 
Sundar Singh, indeed, avoids speaking of a life devoted 
to poverty and celibacy as though it were a higher 
form of life, but it cannot be denied that he considers 
the full following of Jesus in this respect as the highest 
ideal of Christian perfection ; Sundar Singh has a 
Special admiration for the missionary monks of the 
Roman Catholic Church in India. Protestant influence 
can certainly be traced in the way in which he regards 
the tsmi/ia evangelka entirely in the light of the 
226 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

question of vocation. Only when a man has received 
a special Divine call, and when he obeys this call 
without any depreciation of the way followed by his 
brethren, are poverty and celibacy truly evangelical 
ideals. 

In his mystical conception of prayer, in his freedom 
from the spirit of controversy, and in his idea of what 
is involved in following Christ completely, the Sadhu's 
religious ideal is clearly different from that of the 
Reformers. On the other hand, it is very striking that 
his evangelical Christianity is far more strongly sub- 
jective than that of Luther. To Sundar Singh, witness 
for Christ means, in the first place, speaking publicly 
of his wonderful personal experiences, and especially of 
his conversion to Christ. This species of confession 
has something overwhelming about it, because it springs 
from a sense of inner necessity, and is in no way meant 
to obtrude his own personality, but rather to glorify 
God's power and mercy. At the same time it reveals 
a certain one-sidedness, since the strong emphasis on 
personal experience tends to throw the objective and 
universal aspect of the revelation of Divine truth into 
the background. It is evident that even the message 
of Paul and of the first apostles, which was based also 
on personal experiences of the Risen and Exalted Lord, 
had a far more objective outlook than that of the 
Sadhu ; the same may be said of Luther, who, in spite 
of all his passionate subjectivity in writing and in 
preaching, keeps the personal element more in the 
background than does Sundar Singh. In this respect 
the Sadhu has a decided affinity with Christianity of the 
Pietist and Methodist type, in which a sudden and 
decisive conversion to Christ, and personal witness to 
Christ on the part of the convert, hold a central place. 
No one will blame the Sadhu for this peculiarity, but it 

227 



SADKU SUNDAR SINGH 

cannot be denied that it denotes a certain one-sidedness 
and limitation which, if it were too highly prized by 
others, might easily become a danger in the religious 
life* Above all, we see how greatly the SSdhu's sub- 
jective message needs to be completed by a strongly 
objective theology, embodied in the teaching of the 
Church. The more strongly a Christian thinker lives in 
the clear atmosphere of objective religious truth, the 
more conscious will he be of the one-sidedness of the 
Sadhu's piety and teaching. 

On closer acquaintance, Sundar Singh's personality 
might be described as primitive and evangelical, with, 
however, a tendency towards Pietistic subjectivity and 
a non-ecclesiastical individualism. He represents a 
simple, childlike, and yet clear and spiritual religious 
faith, based entirely upon the New Testament. In 
spite of his close connection with the ascetic and mystical 
type of religion associated with the Roman Catholic 
Church, and in spite of the breadth of his mind, in 
which respect he goes far beyond the frontiers of 
Protestantism, his whole temper is not characteristically 
Catholic, but Protestant. The typical Catholic mental 
attitude, the striving to harmonise revealed Truth 
with the whole of the intellectual and spiritual life 
of humanity, is not apparent in him. Theological 
acumen, liturgical beauty, the spirit of Church fellow- 
ship, and the art of ecclesiastical organisation do not 
enter into his scheme of things ; he does not quite grasp 
their full significance for the Christian religion. With 
the same strict concentration and inflexible exclusive- 
ness which is characteristic of all strongly evangelical 
souls, he proclaims continually the *' one thing needful." 
But it is just at this point that the Sadhu and kindred 
souls are truly great. 



ji8 



I 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

z. The Significance or Sundar Singh for India 

For centuries India has been a land of religion. To 
a greater extent than in any other country there is in 
India a tremendously strong sense of the reality of the 
transcendental world, together with an earnest resolve 
to sacrifice everything to the supernatural order. Ought 
not this land, therefore, to be the best soil for the glad 
news of Christ ? Ought nut the hearts of this people 
to open willingly to the Gospel ? And yet there are few 
countries in the world in which Christian Missions have 
met with such stubborn opposition as in India, As 
early as the second century after Christ Christian mes- 
sengers began to work there. In those early days the 
messengers were Syrian missionaries ; the sixteenth 
century witnessed the beginning of Roman Catholic 
missionary activity. Since the eighteenth century mis- 
sionaries from all kinds of Western Churches have 
been at work. In spite of the fact that Christian 
Missions have left a distinct impress upon the mental 
life of India, as we can see in some of the outstanding 
Indian men of the present day, the number of Indians 
who actually confess Christ is a mere drop in the ocean 
compared with those who remain true to the ancient 
religious traditions of India, What are four and 
a half million Christians compared with two hundred 
and seventeen million Hindus, twelve million Buddhists, 
and sixty-nine million Mohammedans? In comparison 
with the patient, persevering, and sacrificial effort of 
the Christian missionaries, this result seems unsatis- 
factory. The cause of this want of success lies partly 
in the fact of the extreme antiquity, richness, and 
depth of the Indian religions, but still more in the 
incapacity of Christian missionaries to adapt their 

a 29 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

message sufficiently to the Indian mind. An eminent 
Jesuit missionary, P. J. Hoffmann, goes so far as 
to say : " The whole of modern mission work in 
India Lis gone to pieces on the rocks of a rigid 
Europeanism> and for that reason it is a great 
fiasco." Canon Western, who belonged to the 
Brotherhood of the Imitation founded by Stokes* 
says very aptly : 

"Christianity in India is loo little Indian. It is cut off from the life 
and thought of the country, and dominated by Western pa 
and. Western methods. But these things are essentially impermanent*" 
" The Christianity which has been taught in India until now has been 
the English and American type of nineteenth-century Protestantism, :• 
SUVcrc and logical faith, with a tendency to become rather matter-of- 
fact , . , wfth very liitile sense of the supernatural, or any trace of 
mysticism or asceticism. A Christianity of that ftind could show the 
young Indian. Church the weaknesses of the Sfldhi! ideal, hut it could not 
grasp its noble elements. . < . The teaching or the Ronum Church has 
obviously baen favourable to the Sadhu ideal, but only along traditional 
Western lines. Separation from Indian life, and dependence upon the 
foreign mission, which is characteristic of non-Roman Christians, became 
a yet stronger characteristic ot the Raman Church in India through its 
centralised uniformity in every detail of doctrine and discipline." 

This European attitude of mind on the part of ail the 
Churches which are trying to evangelise India is in 
direct opposition to the missionary methods of early 
Christianity. The Gospel of Christ could only conquer 
the Hellenistic world of thought by clothing itself in a 
Hellenistic garment ; in the same way Christianity 
will only win the spiritual world of India when it puts 
on the garments of India. In ancient Christendom 
great thinkers, like the two Alexandrians and the three 
Cappidocians, were able to clothe the Gospel of the 
Incarnate Son of God in the stately garment of the 
Greek Spirit. But until the present day no great genius 
has arisen in the missionary ranks in India with the 
capacity to interpret the truths of Christian revelation 

zjo 



_ 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

in the language of India. During the last century 
there have been gifted Indians who were enthusiastic 
in their admiration for the Person and Teaching of 
JestiSj like the leaders of the Brahma-Samaj : Ram 
Mohan Roy and Keshub Chunder Sen, But they all 
represent an artificial blending of Christum and Indian 
religious ideas j perhaps, to put it more exactly, an 
attempt to unite " liberal " Christianity of the ration- 
alistic type with the mystical philosophy of the Upaoi- 
shads. Almost all of them, without exception, are 
unable to understand the inwardness of the mystery of 
Christian redemption. So their efforts resulted in an 
attempt to syncretism a somewhat emasculated Christ- 
ianity with the wisdom of the Vedas, without clearing 
a path along which the vital and central truths ut' 
Christianity could penetrate the spiritual lift.- of India. 

But that which all these religious and able repre- 
sentatives of an eclectic religion — which attempted to 
combine Christianity and the Vedas — failed to achieve 
by conscious effort Sundar Singh succeeded in doing 
quite unconsciously. He is an Indian from head to 
foot, in no way influenced by the intellectual culture 
of the West. Yet he has taken his stand at the very 
heart of the Christian life, he lives entirely In " Biblical " 
Christianity. This is why he has been able to offer 
the pure unadulterated Gospel message to the Indians 
in an Indian form. In this respect lies the great signifi- 
cance of his personality and of his message for Christian 
Missions in India. No one has expressed this signifi- 
cance better than Nathan Sfiderblam : 

" la Lie history of religion Sundar Singh is the firat io show the world 
how the Good News of Jesus Chiist in all its purity h reflected in the 
soul of m Indian. Sundar Singh himself i» the reply to a question 
which ciercised the minds of Christian and other thinkers, before bidU 
cam!! into close contact with the thought-world of the West ; ' What 

231 



■ 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

will the Christianity of India be lite, if indeed il ever becomes anything 
iriQie than an offshoot horn the West .' ' ... Here h an Indian, uh'> 
has remained Indian through and through, who yet has abstirrxd the 
essence of the Gospel into his. beinjr, and surrendered himself entirely 
ro Christ. You will scarcely find anyone m itc West who ha? %r, ( ; . ! 
himsdf more thoroughly in the New Testament and in rhe Psalter than 
Sundar Singh. The striting thing about him is not the union of rhe 
Indian spirit with Christianity, but the way in which he fotcanfia «nd 
illuminates true Scriptural Christianity, from which w c of the West 
could also learn much." 



Sundar Singh is deeply convinced that Christianity 
will only achieve an entrance into Indian hearts and 
souls if it is offered to them in Indian form : M Indians 
greatly need the Water of Life, but they do not 
want it in European vessels." Yet only an Indian 
like the Sidhu is capable of offering the Water of Life 
to the thirsty people of India in his own vessel. Even 
in appearance Sundar Singh is a Jiving sermon to his 
fellow-countrymen. His saffron-coloured sacred robe 
is an Open Sesame to the homes of the people, while his 
self-denying wandering life of poverty and loneliness 
opens their hearts to him. Brahmabandhav Upiklhyaya 
says rightly : " Our missionary experience has gradually 
led us to the conviction that the Sannyasi monk is the 
sole messenger to offer the mysteries of the Christian 
faith to the people of India," And Soderbkmi says 
very much the same thing : " If India is ever really to 
embrace Christianity, it must be offered to the Indians 
in a form which even outwardly, in its self-denial, 
freedom, and simplicity, meets the Indian ideal, and even 
surpasses it." 

Yet it is not only Sundar Singh's externa! way of 
living which attracts the people of India, but his way 
of preaching also is comprehensible to them. He 
speaks in parables like Yajfiavalkya, like Buddha, and 
like Guru NSnak, and many of these parables are drawn 

232 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

from the ancient Indian inheritance of the Vedas. Nat 
only the form of his message is familiar to Indian cars, 
but to a great extent its content also. He talks about 
M&ytly the illusory deceitfulncss of materia! tilings ; 
this world is a treacherous Fata Morgana which lures 
the tired wanderer onward with the promise of refreshing 
waters and then leaves him to die in the barren desert. 
He speaks about Karma, of the great all-prevailing 
moral law according to which every sinful act brings 
with it inevitable distress and punishment. Like the 
Buddha, he speaks of trshmt, of that vital consuming 
thirst which the human soul desires to slake at all costs. 
Like all the wise men of India, he never tires of exhorting 
his hearers to s<imadhi> to that silent, quiet brooding 
which gives the human heart power to enter into the 
knowledge of Divine truths ; and he speaks of &/»//, 
of the deep peace of the soul, of whose worth all the 
sacred books of India are full. He proclaims bhakti, 
that holy love of God which sets the soul free from all 
this transitory world and leads it upwards into the 
realm of eternity ; and he praises meiiirt, that wide, 
all-embracing love which reaches out to the whole 
creation j and he preaches makiha^ the redemption which 
is free and blessed and complete, in which the human 
soul finds rest in time and in eternity. Like Gautama 
Buddha, he speaks of amrta-dhatu, the " place where 
there is no more death." And he plunges joyfully 
into premssagara, the immeasurable ocean of the Divine 
love. Then, too, he contemplates antaryAaiin, the 
" inner Guide," the God who has His throne in the 
inmost depths of the soul. And he glorifies Bh/xgavAn^ 
the supreme, the living Saviour-God, who takes up His 
abode in the soul of the righteous in order to fill it 
with salvation and life. Then> too, he sings of fsvara- 
f>raidda % that wonderful saving act of grace which the 

233 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Redeemer works in the heart of a human creature 
entangled in the meshes of tin and sorrow. He speaks, 
tn<\ of the mysterious avatdra, of the "descent," of 
thu" incarnation of the- Saviour-God, who in humble 
earthly form comes to the children of men in order to 
redeem them out of the hand of the Evil One. As 
the Sddhu utilises primitive Indian religious conceptions 
in his public addresses, so also he draws upon the 
ancient wisdom of the Yogis in his intimate conversa- 
tions with the few. Like the Yogis of Brahmanism 
and Buddhism, he too possesses wonderful spiritual 
powers and spiritual knowledge, rddhi and abkijn'i ; 
like them, he is able to detach his "astral body" 
{manomaya-kdya) from his earthly body and to ascend 
into the highest heaven {brafsma-lokd). He is endowed 
with the gift of heavenly sight and hearing (divyant 
cais/mr and divyam Srotram) \ like them, he has the gift 
of the discerning of spirits, the "understanding of 
strange hearts " (j>arariiia-j3dtid)j and the remembrance 
of a previous existence (pftrva-mvasa-smrtf), not indeed 
of previous earthly existences, but of an original spiritual 
contact between the soul and Christ. 

When we listen attentively to the Sadhu*s message, 
hath in public and in private, we catch distinct echoes 
of well-known leading ideas of the Indian religious 
system of salvatioiij both ancient and modern. And 
ftt this Indian message is no other than the Good 
News preached by Paul and John, Augustincj Francis 
of Assisi, and Luther, It is the message of Christ, the 
Incarnate Son of God, the message of sin and grace, of 
the Cross and Atonement, the message of humility and 
prayer, of service- and of brotherly love ; it is, in short, 
a Biblical message, for the Book from which it takes its 
source is neither Veda, Git3» nor Granth, but the New 
Testament, M The Bible, and especially the Gospel of 
334 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

John* influences his thinking and his speech in a way 
which is astonishing in the case of a person so entirely 
Indian as he is. 1 ' The 5&dhu knew the whole of the 
BhagavadgTta" by heart by the time he was seven years 
old, yet it is a striking fact that when he is preaching 
the Gospel he very rarefy uses words or phrases from 
Indian religious literature * both his thought and his 
language are steeped in the Bible. 

This fact explains why Sundar Singh has rejected 
every essentially Indian conception of religion or of 
philosophy which conflicts with Christian ideals. Thus 
he has entirely given up the ancient Indian doctrine of 
the transmigration of souls, the cycle of rebirth 
(samsdra). In his opinion this doctrine is a " vain 
attempt to solve the problem of suffering." He con- 
fesses that even as a boy he did not like this idea, and 
that he longed for some place where there would be no 
more death. All the great souls of India have loathed 
this idea of rebirth, and have longed for the "place 
where death is not" {ampa-padam) *, hut none of them 
has ventured on that account to question the doctrine 
of rebirth. The Sadhu, however, like Ram Mohan 
Roy before him, under the influence of Biblical Christ- 
ianity, entirely rejects the whole samara idea. This 
present life is the only time a man spends upon this 
earth ; it is the only period of preparation for Eternity, 
" for we shall never return to this life." The Sadhu 
was only freed from that dogma which, for nearly three 
thousand years, has kept Indian thought in bondage, 
by the Christian idea of this life as the sole opportunity 
of deciding for Eternity. 

Closely connected with the rebirth conception is 
that Indian pessimism which found its highest expression 
in the teaching of Buddha ; to renounce the idea of 
rebirth is to break completely with age-long pessimism 

335 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

and to come out into the light and freedom of the day. 
In Buddhist pictures of the Wheel of Life a terrible 
daemonic monster holds in his hands the scales upon 
which the twelve nidana, the links of the Causal Chain, 
of the Causal Nexus, are portrayed — a vivid way of 
suggesting the close connection between pessimism and 
the doctrine of transmigration. Sundar Singh has no 
conception of a dark Fate which has power to rule the 
world os* to affect the lives of men. Even the idea of 
the early Church, that this world lies groaning under 
the rule of Satan and of his hosts, scarcely affects his 
thinking. He is a childlike optimist, who sees the 
Love of his Heavenly Father everywhere. " I believe 
that everything is good." Everything in the world is 
in itself good, because it comes from the Creator who 
is pure Goodness ; but material things can harm souls, 
if men use them wrongly, apart from their Creator. 
The Sadhu tries to show by a parable how it is that 
good and beautiful things can sometimes have a bad 
effect upon the hearts of men : 

" There \% in the Himalaya? a certain Jijnd of flower which by it* 
scent lulls men into unconsciousness ... in lorm ind colour the flowers 
are beautiful ; everyone who sees theni feds attracted to them, bui no 
one walks near them* or sits down among them witbwu being overtaken 
by mysterious and fatal 'lumber. At first I thought that the flowers 
Were poisonous, but people assured me that this was not the case, lor 
those who have been overcome by the scent do not die until die twelfth 
day, and then death ensuea from hunger and (hint, and not from the 
immediate crFec: of tie drug. In lite manner the things of this world 
arc not in themselves evil, but they stupefy careless souls, and hinder 
theni from being COCsdiMtt ol spiritual hunger and thirst, and they drift 
into a sleep which amy easily had to spiritual death." 

But the SSdhu has had to throw over more than 
gloomy pessimism ; he has renounced the spirit of 
rigid asceticism, which indeed is nearly akin to it. 
There is hardly another country in the world in which 

236 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

asceticism holds so high a place in the religious life as 
in India. The Vedas and Sastras frequently acclaim 
the mysterious fapa.^ that marvellous inward " glow " 
achieved by self-chastisement. The Sannyasis believe 
th:it they can kili within themselves all desire for the 
World by painful self-torture and thus escape the burden 
of the suffering nf the world. This asceticism reached 
its zenith in the Jain Order. It is true that several 
religious men in India have recognised the uselessness 
of all external ascetic exercises, and they have not 
hesitated to say so plainly — Gautama Buddha and Guru 
Nanak have strongly condemned extreme asceticism — 
but they could not eliminate this ascetic tendency from 
Indian piety. Sundar Singh is not one whit behind 
the ascetics of his native land in readiness for suffering 
and self-denial ; but he does not suffer and deny himself 
in order to become holy, or to gain the power of working 
miracles, or in order to win salvation ; his sole aim is 
to bear witness to Christ's love and grace, and to share 
with his brethren something of the fullness of that peace 
and joy with which his heart is filled. 

" I say to the Hindu Sidhus : ' You become Sadhiis because you 
want to torture yourselves. I became a Sadhu 111 order to serve; I do 
not torture myself, although I have often been tortured by odien." 
Indian* forsake the world and deny themselves before they have dis- 
covered the fullness of God. They practise self-denial for its own sake, 
not because they have found peace, but because they wailt to Win peace." 

Sundar Singh rejects not only the external form of 
self-chastisement, but also their more subtle forms in 
Buddhism and Yoga. He does not believe that Buddha 
is right in demanding conscious extinction of desire 
from his followers. " Salvation does not consist in the 
annihilation of desire ; it is rather the satisfaction of 
desire. To overcome thirst we must not repress it — a 
process which can only lead to death— but we must 

237 



I 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

satisfy it." In like manner the Sldhu also rejects that 
most subtle form of asceticism, the spiritual exercises 
of the Yoga, both as they are taught in Pantanjalis 
Yogasutra and as they are recommended in Buddhist 
writings and in the Bhagavadgjtl, Jn his own expe- 
rience the Sldhu found that all his own strivings after 
salvation were completely useless, and that man can 
only receive salvation as a free and unmerited gift of 
grace from the Hand of God. Deep peace of heart 
and the joys of heavenly ecstasy can never be worked 
up by any self-centred efforts, nor by our own strivings 
can we ever prepare the way for such experiences. 

* I did not find much help in Yoga. It only assisted me up to a certain 
point. But ft) this help was not Spiritual, It was useless. It used to 
astonish me thai Jesus did not tell u? to practise concentration, or to do 
spiritual eitrciscs." 

The SSdhu knows one way only of attaining heavenly 
peace — that of humble prayer and quiet attention to 
the Voice of God in brooding contemplation. So 
deeply is his soul impregnated with the fundamental 
evangelical truth of gratia sola that he utterly rejects, 
as a hindrance to the attainment of salvation, the whole 
of the time-honoured psycho-techniqnc of the Yoga. 

Another tendency of Indian religion which the Sadhu 
has avoided, from the standpoint of his Christian 
experience, is intellectual ism. JMna-marga ( (< the Way 
of Knowledge tr ) — this is the way of salvation taught 
by the old Upanishads. Yajfiavalkya and the rest of 
the Brahman seers allude to a mysterious knowledge, 
the knowledge of the Unity of Atman and Brahma, 
The highest wisdom of the Vedanta is something beyond 
the grasp of ordinary men, since it teaches the know- 
ledge of Maya 7 of the illusion of multiplicity, and of 
advaita, the non-dualism of the infinite Brahma. As in 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

few other races, the tendency towards metaphysical 
speculation is in the blood of India. Even Buddhism^ 
which in its origin was a mighty reaction against all 
metaphysical philosophy, finally became entangled in 
its net, and produced a number of schools of speculative 
theology. The system of bhakti, too, with its stress on 
love to the Saviour-God, has given rise to a number of 
subtle speculative ideas. We find this speculative 
intellectual tendency again and again, even among 
great religious poets like KabTr, NSnak, and Arjun, 
who sing the praises of their Saviour-God with over- 
flowing devotion. It is most astonishing that the Sadhu 
betrays no traces of this theologies] and speculative 
tendency ; we can only explain this phenomenon by 
the primitive purity of his evangelical fiiith, I Efi CftmCS 
out to its logical conclusion his ruling idea that " religion 
is a matter of the heart, and not of the head." The 
only thing that matters is to receive Christ's gift of 
grace in humble prayer and faith, and not to wonder 
and speculate about God and the world and redemption. 
The child who drinks the milk, according to the Sadhu's 
beautiful parable, is wiser than the chemist who analyses 
it. To an Indian Sannylsi who was preaching jntina- 
mSrga as the way of redemption the SSdhu said that 
we want to drink water when we are thirsty, but that 
we do not need to know that it consists of oxygen and 
hydrogen. 

" When a man is thirsty, whether he be learned or ignorant, young Of 
old, in order to quench his thirst what he needs i* not knowledge, but 
water. Before he ctrinii the water ne does not need to know ili:ii it 
contains oxygen and hydrogen. If he refused to drink it until he could 
understand 1 what we mean by oxygen and! hydrogen he would die of 
thirst. From lime immemorial men have quenched their thirst with 
water without knowing anything about its chemical constituents . 1a 
like manner we tio not need to be instructed in all the mysteries of doctrine, 
but we do meed to receive the Living Water which Jesus Christ will] 
give us and which diode can satisfy our Souk." 

239 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

These words remind us involuntarily of one of 
Buddha's famous parables which he used to convince 
his disciple Milutikyaputta when he wanted to inquire 
into metaphysical questions. If a man were wounded 
by a poisoned arrow, and were to refuse to allow the 
surgeon to draw it out before he knew exactly how 
the arrow was made, and how the tip was poisoned, 
and all about the person who shot it, and where he 
came from, and what he looked like, the surgeon could 
do nothing for him, and the man would die- In like 
manner, a man who will not allow the arrow of harmful 
curiosity to be drawn out of his heart until he has found 
a philosophical solution for all the problems of God 
and the world is in the same case. Since Buddha's 
sole aim is to release the human soul from the burden 
of universal suffering, he refuses to be drawn into 
philosophical argument ; for the sake of the greater 
good of humanity he refuses to attempt to satisfy the 
intellectual hunger for truth. As decidedly as Buddha, 
Sundar Singh, from the standpoint of his personal 
evangelical experience, refuses to embark upon meta- 
physical speculation. Like Buddha also, he considers 
that the only thing that matters is not head-knowledge, 
but salvation, redemption, the peace of the soul — santi. 
Philosophic thought is no help in the search for peace. 
In the course of many centuries it has not led mankind 
any deeper into the understanding of metaphysical 
problems. For this reason the Sadhu regards the 
history of philosophy as an un progressive cycle of 
thought. 

" It must be admitted that philosophy has made no progress in iW 
cours* of centuries. The same old problems repeat themselves, though 
1/1 new forms and In fresh language. Jn India ail OX with blindfold. J 
eyes goes round an oil-press all the day long. When his eyes are uti- 
bandaged in the evening he finds that he has been going round and round 

240 






L 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

in a Circle and that although he has succeeded in producing some oil he 
haj got no further. Although the philosophers have been at it for 
hundreds of years, they have not reached their goal. Now and then, 
after much labour they have produced a little oil, which they have left 
behind them, but it is not sufficient to meet the sore need of mankind." 

Ndc only has Sundar Singh freed himself entirely 
from intellectualism, but also from Indian pantheism. 
India is the classic land of pantheism. From the 
Brhad-Aranyaka-Upanishad of the Vedas down to the 
present day the siren-song has ever been sung that 
the All is One and that One is the All : Brahma ; also 
" I am Brahma " {brahma 'mm) ; " Thou thyself art 
Brahma " {tat nam asf). Certainly it is only the strict 
Vedantists who defend the Admdta conceptions to their 
final philosophical conclusion. But the thought of the 
substantial unity of the soul and God, " consisting in a 
personal relationship with God, and based upon an 
attempt to prove the personality of God to the intellect 
through the sacred unity," continually reappears in the 
ttliakla. The hymns of the Granth, with which the 
Sadhu has been familiar from his youth, are specially 
full of pantheistic thoughts and expressions. He him- 
self admits that during the early days of his Christian 
experience he was still deeply influenced by Hindu 
pantheism, and that he explained the wonderful peace 
which filled his soul by saying that he himself was 
God, or a part of God. But the more he steeped 
himself in the thought of the New Testament, the more 
these pantheistic tendencies receded into the background. 
To-day his rejection of the pantheism of his ancestral 
faith is as decided as it can be. Friedrich von Htigel, 
who had a conversation with him in London, expressed 
great astonishment at his entire freedom from pan- 
theism. With wonderful directness, clearness, and 
accuracy the SSdhu gives his reasons why there should 
q 241 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

be complete separation between Christianity and 
pantheism :. 

r. " God 15 our Creator and we arc His creatures ; He is our Father, 
and we are His children." 2. Li If wc ourselves were divine, we 
would no laager feci any desire to worship." 3. " If wc want to rejoice 
in God Wc must be different from Him; the tongue could taste Ho 
sweeties* if There were no difference between it and that which it tastes.' 
4. " To be redeemed doe* not mem to be lost in or absorbed into God. 
Wc do not lose our personality in God ; mtlicr wc find it." 5. " Pan- 
theism docs not admit the fact of sin, therefore we often find immoral 
conduct among its followers," 

But although the Sadhu refuses to use the pantheistic 
formula of identification, " I am Godj' 1 all the more 
does he love the expression^ implying Divine Im- 
manence, "God in us and we in Him," which indeed 
Is a favourite formula in the Gospel of John. He brings 
out the difference between identification and immanence 
very clearly in several parables, the second of which is 
almost literally the same as one used by St. Teresa, 
and the third can be paralleled almost word for word 
in the writings of Origen, Bernard of Clairvaux, and 
Sankara. 

"No one ought to imagine that the Presence of Christ and the tense 
of * Heaven upon earth ' mean what a believer in pantheism means when 
he says : ' Now I am God.' No, Wc arc in Cod and God is in us. But 
that docs, not mean that we are God or that He is m-in." " There is 
fire in the coal, and the coal ia in the fire, but the coal is not the fire, and 
the lire is not the coal. We are only so far united with God as wt give 
Our he-iris to Htm and allow Him lo baptise us with the Holy Spirit." 

" Look at the sponge as it is immersed in the water. The sponge is. 
in. the water, and the water is In the sponge- But the. sponge it not the 
Water, nor the water the sponge, but both are diilerent tJiEnga. When 
we give lime lo prayer then we are in God, God is in us ; but that does 
no! mean that God is our soul or that we are God." " Jmt as the water 
is in die sponge. So God i& everywhere and in all things, but He is not 
identified with created things." 

" Hatrc you ever stood in a smithy f Did you notice how the black- 
smith held the iron in the fire r It became more and more glowing 

242 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

the longer it ky in the forge, until at last it looked quite like fire. The 
iron was in the fire, and the fire was in the iron, but the iron was not 
the fire, nor die Ere the iron. When the iron began to glow, the smith 
Could bend it into any shape he desired, but it still remained iron. Even 
so we still retain our personality when wc allow ourselves to he penetrated 
by Christ." 

Sundaf Singh, then, regards the Christian's union 
with God, nnt as a unto tnyaka substantiaiis^ but as a 
unio mystics perssnalh. No (ess important is the fact 
that he never separates union with God from the whole 
history of God's dealing with men. 

"The Atonement achieved a union which was not there before. He 
is in us, and we are in Him; by this I do not mean that kind of union 
which Indians call ' losing oneself in God.' They talk of the stream 
which is swallowed up or lost in the ocean. Wc do not lose ourselves, 
but we attain life in union with Him." 

Once more this complete freedom from pantheism 
is a clear sign of the strength and purity of that Scrip- 
tural Christianity represented by the Sldhu. When 
pantheism disappears, the Hindu avaiam doctrine goes 
too. According to the Indian view the infinite Deity 
reveals Himself in countless ways ; the Saviour-God is 
continually clothing Himself in fresh forms in order to 
reveal Himself to men and to show them the way of 
salvation. This ffvatdm doctrine makes it possible for 
Hinduism to combine the sublimest mysticism with the 
whole of popular polytheism. The countless divinities 
of the [ndian Pantheon are regarded as incarnations of 
the one God ; further, the gods of other races and the 
founders and saints of other religions in this way also 
obtain recognition. So mystical pantheism glides imper- 
ceptibly into vague syncretism. Sundar Singh's attitude 
towards this syncretism (which gives Jesus a place of 
honour in its ranks) is as unflinching and yet as modest 
in its delusiveness as was that of early Christianity 

343 



_ 



SADHU SUNDAR STNGH 

towards the polytheism of the decadent civilisation of 
the ancient world. In his eyes Jesus Christ is the sole 
avanira. the only incarnation of God. Even though 
these Hindu deities may have been dim foreshadowings 
of the Eternal Christ, only once in time has the Eternal 
Word taken earthly form. Once only has He been 
truly and fully man ; in jesus of Nazareth. 

This doctrine of a single incarnation shows very 
clearly the great difference that exists between the 
Sadhu's faith and that of many modern Hindus and 
Buddhists,, who sec in Jesus an avaidra of Krishna 
or Buddha, 

" Kristin says: ' In every age I am bam to save the good and lo 
destroy the wicked.' Jriu*, on [fit- CMUtuy, came to save mum*'* 

Again, the Sadhu reveals the power of Christian 
thought in his strong condemnation of caste. In this 
respect he has had many predecessors in the history of 
Indian religion. Buddha, the Sakya Prince, knew no 
caste in his message ; he saw only men who were in 
need of redemption ■ in his community differences of 
caste did not count. Guru Nanak preached the equality 
of all men and the worthlcssness of caste distinctions, 
Govind Singh tried to bridge over and remove caste 
differences in his khahfi. In more recent times it has 
been the leaders of the Bfahma-Samaj who, under the 
influence of Christianity, have taken up the cudgels 
against the tyranny of caste. But these efforts have been 
unsuccessful. So far, even Christian Missions have 
been unable to win a decided victory in this matter. 
To a large extent Christian converts are still influenced 
by their caste prejudices ; among Roman Catholic 
Indian Christians it sometimes happens that individual 
converts wilt refuse to attend Mass or receive the 
Sacrament if the officiating priest is a member of another 

2+4 






THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 
caste. Even the great Brahmabandhav was an enthu- 
siastic defender of the caste system ; he spoke with 
great approval of some Christians in Madras and 
Bombay who refused to touch food which had been 
cooked by members of a lower caste. In the preserva- 
tion of caste prejudice Sundar Singh sees one of the 
greatest weaknesses of the Christian Church in India, 
especially in South India. When we realise the gravity 
of this problem, we sec all thu more clearly how significant 
it is that the Sadhu has broken entirely with caste, and 
that from the highest Christian standpoint he never 
tires of striving against this ancient social system of his 
native land, which has been in existence for more than 
two thousand years. 

Thus we see that Sundar Singh has made a sweeping 
renunciation of all Indian conceptions and traditions 
which he could not harmonise with the spirit of New 
Testament Christianity. His message is not a com- 
promise ; it is no synthesis of Indian and Christian 
religious thought, which has been the dream of so 
many Indian and Western minds. The Sadhu does 
not believe that the Upanishads and the New Testament 
are of equal value, which is the point of view held by 
the followers of the Brahma-Samaj, and, along another 
line, by a German philosopher and disciple of Schopen- 
hauer, Paul Deussen. 

His message is the pure Gospel of God's revealed 
love in Christ. It is only the language in which he 
clothes the old Gospel which is new and original ; this, 
however, is as genuine and pure as it is in the hands 
of the greatest Christian thinkers ; one might almost 
say that it is even more genuine and pure than that 
of many classical Christian mystics. For this reason 
Sundar Singh has the right to rank as an apostle of 
ChriM, as an apostle of India, " He has a peculiar 

245 




SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

influence for Christ in India, bath among Christians 
and non-Christians," says his former teacher, Canon 
Wigram, a missionary who is somewhat inclined to be 
critical of Sundar Singh, Even the two most out- 
standing men of present-day India, Rabindranath Tagorc 
and Mahatma Gandhi, like and esteem the Sadhu. 
This Christian apostle is regarded by some of his 
heathen fellow-countrymen as an actual avalara, as an 
incarnation of their Saviour-God ; they even bestow 
upon him as upon Gandhi the divine title of Mahatma 
(which, however, the Sadhu, with true Christian humility, 
refuses to acknowledge). Even Indians who honour 
the Vt-das and the Upanishads as the highest revelation 
of Dtvine Wisdom cannot escape the attraction of this 
Christ-filled soul. 

Sundar Singh's significance for Christian Missions in 
Indi:i cannot be overestimated. Dr r Macnicol, who is 
both a scholar and a missionary, says i " He is India's 
idea! of the disciple of Christ — a barefooted itinerant 
preacher with burning love in his heart. In him 
Christianity and Hinduism seem to meet, and the 
Christian faith stands forth, not as something foreign, 
hut like a flower which blossoms on an Indian stem." 
Yet it would be a great mistake to expect this wonderful 
Christian disciple to win a decided victory for Christ- 
ianity over Hinduism. It was not only the apostolic 
preaching of the Gospel which won the Grace-Roman 
world for Christianity, nor was It only the brotherly 
love of the Christians nor the heroism of the martyrs, 
but it was the daring intellectual and spiritual labour of 
ancient Christian theologians, especially those of Alex- 
andria. To conquer a world of thought like the 
Hellenistic world, theological speculation was needed in 
order to penetrate the Christian truths of revelation 
with the methods of ancient philosophy. In the same 

246 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGK 
way India needs not only the simple evangelical pre:u bing 
of word and life (although this remains always the 
primal necessity), but, if it is to make a permanent 
conquest, it needs some massive theological achievement 
which will unite the fullness of the Christian revela- 
tion with the religious and philosophical heritage of 
India ; just as the Alexandrians and the Cappadocians, 
Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, united it with the 
philosophy of the ancients. This means that a new 
Summa Thtokgka is needed, which will do for India 
what St. Thomas has done so magnificently for the West. 
This theological synthesis is all the more important 
for India, though far more difficult than for the West, 
because the religious and philosophical treasures of 
India arc far older and richer than those of Greece, 
Without this theological synthesis Christianity will never 
succeed in being for India what it once was for the 
Gr^co-Roman world. This does not mean that a 
syncretistic system like the Brahma-Samaj is needed, 
which weaves together various external elements of 
Christianity and Hinduism *, rather, India needs a 
synthesis which will preserve in its purity the whole 
content of Christian revelation, while welcoming the 
great wealth of religious truth which is embodied in 
India's religion and philosophy, and which will assure 
it a right to exist in the intellectual lite of Christianity. 
The Sadhu can only achieve this synthesis in a very 
limited way, firstly, because he is pre-eminently a naive 
humble Christian believer and not a theologian, and 
also because he cut himself off too early from Indian 
religious literature^ and is therefore unable to penetrate 
into its breadth and depth. We must not overlook the 
fact that the knowledge of Indian philosophy and 
religion which the Sadhu possessed at his conversion, 
as a lad of sixteen years, is too meagre to enable him 

247 



SADHU SUNDAR. SINGH 

to make a complete intellectual analysis. But without 
such an analysis,, and otic which will ppihe into thr 
farthest metaphysical recesses of the subject, the one 
religion cannot win a victory over the ether. The 
Courageous and enthusiastic witness of personal Christian 
experience, with ail its emphasis upon peace of heart, 
will not suffice to cause a radical change in a religious 
and philosophical world like that of India. Only a 
theological genius can effect this, a person who is 
endowed with a wealth of literary knowledge, with 
philosophical acumen and theological method, and, 
above all, with the gift of a. deep and humble personal 
faith. The Indian Vedanta had such a genius in 
Bankara, the Indian Bhakti in Ramitnuja, Indian 
Buddhism in Nagarjuna, Islam in Al Ghazali, Greek 
Christianity in the Alexandrians and the Cappadocians, 
Western Christendom in Augustine and Thomas 
Aquinas, And Indian Christianity cannot do without 
such a leader. Down to the present day no such 
leader has appeared. But that a desire for him already 
exists within Indian Christianity, and that earnest 
attempts at such a synthesis are being undertaken, is 
shown by the example of the Roman Catholic Sannyasi, 
Brahmabandhav Upadhyaya, to whom Friedrich von 
Huge! first drew our attention. Brahmabandhav was 
not content merely with the idea of founding an Order 
of contemplative and preaching Friars which shooid be 
purely Indian ; he had already begun to study the 
Christian truths of revelation in connection with the 
fundamental ideas of the Vedanta, and he was trying 
to bring these truths home to Indian thought by using 
the categories of the Vedanta. 

" Indian thought can be made just is useful to Christianity as Greek 
though' hu been to Europe." " The truths of the Hindu philosopher 
must be ' baptised 1 and used as stepping-stones to the Catholic Faith/' 

248 



L 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

" The 1'uropcan clothes of the Catholic religion should be laid a&idc as 
soon as possible. It must assume the Hindu garment which will make 
it acceptable to die people of India. This change «n only be effected 
by ludbTi missionary OidefS who preach the Sacred Faith in ihe language 
of the Vcdintn." 

Brahmabandhav was able to express very clearly the 
mysteries of the Trinity and of the Incarnation in the 
terminology of Indian philosophy. His attempt shows 
the capacity of the Jndian mind to illuminate and give 
new emphasis to the fundamental truths of the Christian 
Faith, and particularly to those truths whose meaning 
has been to some extent neglected by Western theology. 
Brahmabandhav dared, too, to apply the ancient saying 
of Augustine, " Novum testamentum in •veSere laat, WWW 
iestame/tfum in novo palct" to the relationship between 
the Vedas and the New Testament. At this point his 
thought is in harmony with that of Nathan Soderblom, 
who recently affirmed, as a guiding principle of missions, 
that in future there will be as many Old Testaments as 
there are Sacred Scriptures of the leading religions of 
the world. 

Brahmabandhav, who was as deeply versed in the 
Theistic-VedSnta theology nf Ratnanuja as in the 
Summa Thcelogha of Aquinas, seemed marked out by 
special vocation as the first great Indian Christian 
theologian who would be able to achieve a creative 
synthesis between Hinduism and Christianity. His 
life-work, however, was ruined by the opposition of 
the Roman hierarchy. Narrow-minded fanatics not 
only condemned his ideas, but even forbade him to 
exercise any religious and theological activity. The 
result was that he threw himself more and more into 
the political side of the SvarSj Movement, and finally 
he became alienated from the Catholic Church which 
once he had so ardently loved. But even during his 
lifetime a strong Protestant like Dr. Fairbairn of Oxford 

249 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

prophesied the victor)' of his ideas. " He (h'airbaim) 
was an aggressive Protestant, but justice compelled 
him to say that in spite of the fact that the present-day 
hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church was unwilling 
to allow such far-reaching concessions, it was never- 
theless this Church alone, of all the existing bodies, 
which could use such broad-mindedness to her own 
advantage." Actually, Brahma bandhav's plans for a 
Hindu- Catholic Religious Order, and for a Christian 
theology founded on the Vedas, were again brought 
forward at a Congress of Indian Catholics in Madras 
in 1921 and approved, One of the most eminent 
representatives of Catholic missionary policy^ Joseph 
Schmidliiij has undertaken in an enthusiastic treatise 
to defend the honour of this Indian thinker who, in his 
lifetime, was despised and branded as a heretic. 

The life-work of Brahmabandhav is most instructive. 
It teaches us that the Christian message, if it is to win 
a permanent victoryj needs a stronger and more conscious 
connection with the sacred literature of India than wo 
find in the preaching of Sundar Singh. India has been 
given a wonderful evangelical genius in the S&dhu, but 
she still needs a " Caiholic " genius to bridge over the 
gulf between Christianity and Indian philosophy and 
theology. In the Sadhu, India has a great apostle, but 
she needs a teacher as well, a Doner etdesiae as great as 
St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas. Were such a 
man granted her, then, and only then, would the victory 
of Christianity in the land of the Vedas be assured. 

3. The Significance of Sundak Singh fob. Western 
Christianity 

With Sundar Singh a new epoch begins for Christian 
Missions in India. He lives and preaches the Gospel 
of Christ in true Indian terms and appeals to the heart 

250 






THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAE SINGH 
of India. " On young and old," says his teacher, the 
Presbyterian missionary Dr. Fife, " upon Christians 
and upon non-Christians, he exerts an influence which 
was never greater than it is now. There are a great 
number of true Christian men in North India, but 
Sundar Singh occupies a peculiar position. There is 
only s« Sundar Singh." In the whole history of 
Christian Missions there are few to whom such a far- 
reaching sphere of activity has been granted. But is 
the significance of the Sadhu exhausted with his pro- 
clamation of the Gospel in India and in the neighbouring 
countries > When he travelled through the lands of 
the West, had he a message for them also? Many 
Western Christians, including eminent theologians, have 
regretted that the Sadhu ever left his native land and 
came to Europe and America. But they are mistaken ; 
his preaching was no less useful to Western Christianity 
than it is to Hindus and Buddhists. His personality 
and his message constitute the most apt and searching 
criticism of those errors and superficialities which arc 
so evident in the Christianity of the West; indeed, 
I would go further, and say that they are a 
fresh and powerful reminder of the central facts of 
Christianity, of the " one thing needful," an insistent 
call to the conscience of Christendom to face the 
supreme challenge of Christianity. 

The whole history of Western Christianity presents 
the spectacle of an ever-renewed drift away from the 
centre, a continual flight to the circumference. Again 
and again the Christianity of the West has lost itself in 
externals, in dogmatic formulas, in ecclesiastical organ- 
isation, in theological dialectic, in undue stress on 
intellectual culture. Again and again it has mistaken 
the rind for the kernel, the rays of sunshine for the 
light itself. The West has not lacked holy men who 



1 






. 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

by life and word have called Christendom back to tin- 
Living Christ, whose message has been a perpetual 
summons to repentance. But the present day ts not 
rich in such saints who can show Christians the way 
back to communion with Christ. There are indeed 
many learned and able theologians, astute Churchmen 
and social reformers, but there are very few men o$ 
God to whom " Christ is all in all," who therefore can 
be all in all to their brethren. In the Christian Sadhu, 
Western Christianity Sees such a man of God. That 
which so many Western Christians regard as belonging 
to the region of mediaeval legend now appears before 
their eyes as a living reality. In Sundar Singh the 
West beholds a man who lives entirely in the super- 
natural world, one who brings a message from that 
world, a man whose heart is fixed m Eternity,, and 
whose word and life are a sermon of the Living Christ. 
He stands before Western Christianity like a loud 
Sursum cvrdtt ! as one who summons and leads it to that 
higher world whose reality is becoming fainter and 
fainter and whkh threatens to fade into oblivion. 

To a large extent contemporary Christendom has lost 
the secret of that vita spirisualis which was an obvious 
necessity in previous ages. Somewhat in the maimer 
of ancient Indian psychology, Sundar Singh speaks of 
the "sixth sense," " of that inward spiritual sense by 
which we perceive the Presence of God in our lives, 
just as we perceive external things of this world through 
the medium of the five senses of the body." In Western 
lands this sense of transcendental reality has been 
stunted, and in some instances it has been almost 
starved out of existence. 

" The men of the West are highly educated in science and philosophy, 
but they understand nothing of Spiritual things." " People arc amicus 
to explore nvczy Other region of truth save thai which concern* their 

251 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

spiritual condition. They are eager to know when there will be aii 
eclipse of die 8HB, or of the mow, or what accounts for the spots era the 
*un. TTwrj «*» **? I0 c*P ltwe thc depf* 1 * °f the dotids, ^but they do 
not trouble themselves about the cloud's of sin in their souls." 

It is not only a highly developed intellectual activity 
that has led many Christians to lose all touch with 
transcendental reality— in simpler language, to have 
forgotten how to pray — rationalistic philosophical and 
theological ideas must also bear part of the blame. 
While religious " heathen " of the East cultivate the 
"spiritual life" as a matter of course day by day and 
hour by hour, in the practice of meditation, contem- 
plation, and prayer, many Western Christians have 
thrown overboard the exertittam spiritual as so much 
useless ballast. Indeed, there are to-day Protestant 
theologians who have given up the whole of the inner 
life of prayer and meditation as a "mass of error," 
and who try to cover up the awful nakedness of modern 
Christianity with the fig-leaves of theological justifies 
tion. "We are tending," says Evelyn Underbill, 
" more and more to develop a typically Western kind 
of Christianity, marked by the Western emphasis on 
doing and Western contempt for being ; and if we go 
sufficiently far on this path we shall find ourselves Cut 
off from our source." l Sundar Singh sees very clearly 
that the root cause of the externaHsm, poverty, and 
weakness of Western Christianity lies in the lack of a 
deep jfe of prayer. A Swiss pastor says of him : 
" With wise simplicity he has made the diagnosis of 
our disease." He complained frequently : " You Euro- 
peans sire in too great a hurry ; you have no time to 
pray or to live I " Very aptly he has summed up the 
meaning of this neglect of the life of prayer in the 
West : " People who do not live in fellowship with 

1 TAr Lift ifife Spirit 0M° tk Lift 0/ to-day, V , 163 . 

253 



I' 



. 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

God in prayer are not worthy of being called human 
beings ; they are trained animals." " A Christian 
without prayer is a corpse." For this reason all his 
addresses in the West were a great call to "Pray 
•without ceasing" When some Swiss pastors asked him 
what they should do to make their work more suc- 
cessful, he answered simply: " More prayer ." "In 
this respect," writes Saderblom in a striking passage, 
" Sundar Singh has something to teach the West. But 
this lesson does not come from India, but from the 
Gospel. The widespread, ever-increasing activity of 
Western Christendom cannot make up for the weakness 
of its inner life." 

In the Sidhu's opinion, it is because so many Western 
Christians have lost the art of prayer that they have 
lost their hold on the central Christian truth of the 
Deity of Christ. Again and again he pleads earnestly 
with those who only see in Christ a prophet and an 
ethical Teacher, a figure in history, but not the Living 
Saviour and the Source of all life. He warns the 
Western Church against sending out people with such 
views as missionaries to India. "Those who deny 
the Deity of Christ bring with them poison instead of 
spiritual nourishment.'* In his spirited defence of the 
Deity of our Lord, Sundar Singh has a further 
message for Western Christianity. His emphasis on 
this central doctrine of Christianity suggests a solution 
to many minds which are struggling with the problems 
of modern Biblical criticism and Comparative Religion. 
Sundar Singh's faith in Christ does not rest in the first 
place upon the Jesus of History, but upon the Eternal 
Christ, with whom he lives in personal fellowship 
through prayer. Only from this standpoint does he 
contemplate the Figure of Jesus as he sees It in the 
Gospels. In this direction he is poles apart from all 
*54 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

scientific and religious Historical realism, and still 
farther from the " Myth-theory " which attracts so many 
Christian teachers of Dogmatic Theology. To pass 
from kith in the Eternal Christ to faith in the Historical 
Jesus is the only possible way of approach for those 
whose faith has been disturbed or hindered by the 
opposite method of Biblical criticism and historical 
research into the Life of Christ. This way is inde- 
pendent of all the " results " of scientific research, and 
yet it can be combined with them. Once a man has 
seen the reality of the Eternal Christ who " became 
flesh and dwelt amongst us," he will find that problems 
of eschatology or of the Messianic Consciousness of the 
Historical Jesus simply do not touch either his faith in 
Christ or his love to Christ. The "proof" of the 
Deity of Christ does not lie first of all in the New 
Testament documents, which, after many decades of 
honest research, to some extent have become some- 
what problematic^ but in faith in Christ, and in the 
possession of Christ in the Church, and in the soul 
of the individual Christian, 

Sundar Singh has come to believe in the Divine 
Humanity of Christ through his own personal expe- 
rience, through immediate contact with the Living Christ. 
Augustine is the classical witness to the other method 
when he says that the foundation of his personal faith 
in Christ is the consciousness of the whole Church, the 
corporate judgment of the orbis terrarum — ego vera 
evangelic mn crederem* nisi me ammoveret tathoikae 
ecdesiae aucloriuu. Both conceptions meet in this : 
that they are founded upon the Ever-Living Christ ; 
the one upon the Christ who reveals Himself to the 
individual soul, the other upon the Christ who is the 
Life-Principle of a great organic Society. The SSdhu 
has done a great service to Western theologians, and, 

255 



f 



II 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

indeed, to all Christians, in so far as he has turned 
their attention away from historical research to ilir 
living Presence of the Incarnate Son of God. lie 
opens, the eyes of both parties (of those who defend 
rationalist orthodoxy and of those who stand for 
rationalist liberalism) to the mystery of the Deity <>l 
Christ, which is most clearly expressed in the words of 
the Athanasian symbol : " Per/ems Deus^perfectus homo" 
Since the Sadhu's message brings home to Western 
Christendom a renewed sense of the reality of the life 
of prayer and of faith in the Living Christ, it carries 
with it an urgent sense of the reality of the eternal 
world. Later Protestantism especially has lost thai 
immense and grave sense of eternity which was charac- 
teristic of mediaeval and reformed Christianity, and has 
turned a religion, originally deeply imbued with the 
supernatural element, into an ethical system. On the 
other hand* to ancient Christendom the Kingdom of 
God meant something which pointed forward to a great 
Divine ideal, unrealised upon earth, which the mystic 
sacramental Body of the Church only anticipated, but 
far which it was no substitute. Modern Protestantism, 
however, has tended more and more to conceive of the 
Kingdom of God as exclusively concerned, here and 
now, with social and ethical problems. Thus, that 
Kingdom which in the thought of the early Christians 
could not be built Up by human effort came to mean 
an order of society which could only be evolved out 
of the inner consciousness of mankind. This sort of 
optimism has produced a terrible reaction in the theology 
of the Barth-Gogartcn School, which stresses the ideas 
of Transcendence and Judgment to such an extent 
that man is driven into perpetual " crisis " and despair, 
and has to take his " place in the air." ' Sundar Singh 

' RQfntrdriif. Karl Baith. 
256 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

shows us the true belief in the supernatural world, 
which has as little to do with this negative escharology 
as it has with the worldly faith of liberalism. He 
shows us how Christians should live even now in 
this transitory world. The heart of the Christian faith 
is the resolute affirmation of transcendental reality, 
the unceasing surrender to the supernatural, but 2 
Surrender in joy and thankfulness, in confident assurance 
of salvation. 

Sundar Singh reveals this Christian " other-world- 
lincss " most clearly in his apostolic life of poverty (24) and 
chastity. In the Protestant world he has renewed the 
honour of the consilta evangelim which the Reformers 
had abandoned — as a justifiable protest against the 
over-emphasis and error of the monastic system. The 
■complete surrender of the monastic ideal, however, and 
its logical consequence — an exaggerated idea of the 
importance of " life in the world " as a vocation — has 
borne bitter fruit. Schopenhauer spoke truly when he 
said that this surrender meant the " dethronement of 
the supernatural." The Forerunner of the Lord (John 
the Baptist) and Christ Himself, Paul (the great Apostle 
of the Gentiles), and many great men of God, Origen 
and Augustine, Benedict and Francis, Thomas Aquinas 
and Bonaventura, have embodied before the worid the 
monastic ideals of poverty and celibacy. Christianity 
can as ill afford to dispense with this ideal of life on 
the one side as it can afford to give up the ideal of 
vocation in the world, and marriage, on the other. That 
Sundar Singh, the preaching Friar, has been so warmly 
welcomed in Europe and in America is a clear sign 
that people have begun to modify the Reformers 1 con- 
ception of monastic ism and to value the c&m&4 evan- 
gsMtitt 

Sundar Singh's " other-worldhness " comes out very 
* 257 






J 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

plainly in his belief in miracles. The S&dhu teaches us 
the golden mean between a superstitious hankering after 
the miraculous and a rationalistic desire to do without 
it altogether. He has himself experienced many a 
wonderful deliverance in his varied life, and in these 
happenings he sees a proof of the activity of the Living 
Christ. But for him all these external miraculous 
events are only outward s : gns and reflections of the 
great central miracle : that of the forgiveness of sins 
and the spiritual new birth. He who believes in this 
inward miracle believes also in the historical miracle of 
the incarnation and the Atonement, and he who believes 
in this miracle in the soul of man and in history finds 
nothing impossible in external miracle ; to him it is 
only the inevitable radiance streaming out from the 
great miracle of redemption. For the activity of the 
Living God cannot be confined to the sphere of history 
and of the spiritual life ; it must necessarily include the 
physical life of man and the external laws of Nature. 
Such a view involves no breaking of the laws of Nature* 
but a sublime sense of order, which, indeed, is not visible 
to the profane gaze, for it can only be perceived by the 
spiritually-minded man whose vision has been cleansed 
and intensified by the steady practice of prayer. Although 
from the historical standpoint isolated examples of 
miraculous events in the Sadhu's life may have to be 
criticised, his religious conception of miracle is genuinely 
Christian, as Friedrich von Hugel has said in a recent 
strong defence of the Sadhu, and Sundar Singh, in his 
simplicity, has expressed this far more dearly and 
impressively than many Western theologians. 

Further, Sundar Singh has a special mission to 
Christian theology and to the Christian Church of the 
West. Theological research needs to be constantly 
balanced by living Christian piety if it is not to degenerate 

a 5 B 






THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

into presumptuous speculation, destructive criticism, or 
empty dialectic. Theology without prayerful piety is 
like a fountain whose waters have dried up. In this 
lay the greatness of the outstanding Christian theologians 
of the past, that they were neither mere speculative 
philosophers nor mere learned scholars, but religious 
men, who were in living contact with God, and who 
therefore had something to say and to declare about 
God, as is implied in the word cWAoyos. Their theo- 
logy had a strength and a driving power quite different 
from the learning which often goes by this name 
Eo-day. Their great theological ideas came to them 
while they Were on their knees before God m prayer, 
as they waited on Him for the inspiration of the Holy 
Spirit. The SiLdhifs personality points us once more 
towards this kind of theology, which to-day has so 
largely been lost. From a simple man of God like 
Sundar Singh the learned in the divinity of the West 
can learn what religion and Christianity are in their 
essence. A Swiss pastor spoke truly when he said : 
" The SSdhu is worth more than all of us who have been 
trained in theology ; we would be sinning against the 
truth if we were to refuse to admit this." "When a 
Western theologian begins to study a man so richly 
gifted with the Grace of God as Sundar Singh, he finds 
his conscience strangely stirred. A Swiss pastor, Kiener 
of Thierachern, speaks thus of his meeting with Sundar 
Singh in Edinburgh : 

" A» I mw him there, standing before me, and heard, him speak of his 
spiritual life, while on the other hand I knew that I Was surrounded by 
theological scholars in gown md hood, all at once the question arose id 
my mind ; What are we aiming at, after all, in sludying theology } Why 
do we learn and study all the hundreds of lesser things, when we do not 
allow the most important one of all to have its proper place in our lives t 
What arc we doing with all out apparatus of scholarship, and what have 
we achieved by it all ? Men like this Indian Can move nations. But 
whit do at achieve r ,l 

259 






■ 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

The SSdhu is not only a critic of our theology by th* 
fact of his vital Christian personality, but while b« ml 
in Europe he gave his views upon this subject with 
unreserved frankness and unsparing severity. 

" I never send anyone to the theologians,, for too often they have Urn 
their tens* of spiritual reality. They can ettptoin Greek words, and 
that sort of thing, but they Spend their time among their books and me 
no! enough with the Lord- 1 do not condemn scientific tbttiagj ud 
theologians wholesale ; ninny of them arc saints. But unfortun.nofy it 
n the fashion of the day to doubt and deny everything, to criticise our 
Lord, to discuss Hia Deity, etc I protest against this tendency ." " Vbfl 
arc in danger of going wrong. If you Wtnt spiritual guidance, do not 
turn to Rationalist! or theologians who are inwardly empty, bat 6" '" 
llie Wofd of God, and you will find Strength at the Master's Feet." 
" Red theological studies are made ai the Feet of jc*u* Cheat f would 
like to aay a word here about theological colleges ill order that you may 
not misunderstand me. 1 am not speaking without rentction. I have 
known young people who by the time they were to luive college and 
begin their work for Christ had lost their enthusiasm. I asked them 
what had happened. One of them answered in the name of them all : 
'The im«ts of criticism and unbelief have eaten up our soul*.' This 
is why I feel I must speak ; my love Tot my Saviour forces me to it. I 
myself wished to study, but the whole question is a difficult problem i 
for if life has been stifled there h nothing left. I learnt many good things 
at College which concerned this earthly life, but the teaching of the Holy 
Spirit I have received at the feet of the Master. It is not that 1 am 
opposed to all education, but education without life is certainly dangerous. 
Only when head and heart work together harmoniously will there be 
great results for the Glory of God." 

The Sfidhu is parti culaily opposed to Biblical criticism, which, he 
regards as a kind of spiritual " bifluenKa." " Many cultivated people 
have time enough to study boolts about the Word of God, but they 
have no time to read it for itself, or, if they do read it, they criticise it 
instead of trying to Icam something from it. This Word possesses the 
power to show us our fault*, but we find fault with it and ate always 
on the look-out for mistakes. Thus we turn a blessing into a curse. It 
is no wonder that such people Cannot understand what Christ means," 

In recent years rarely has any religious man passed 
so severe a judgment on present-day theology as Sundar 
Singh, Some of this criticism is certainly one-sided ; 
we cannot expect the Sadhu to take a complete view of 

260 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

the whole complicated problem of our theology. He 
fails to appreciate the honest and courageous love of 
truth which characterises modern critical theology, a 
veracity which in no way only springs from Rationalism, 
but from the Christian ethic j neither docs he realise 
that this critical theology has made available to all 
great historical knowledge of direct religious value, and 
whose full religious significance will perhaps only 
become plain to later generations. Nevertheless, we 
cannot deny that the Sadhu 's criticism is, in its essence, 
sound. To some extent modern theology is divorced 
from the life of personal religion. That is the reason 
why it starts with false presuppositions and erects false 
standards ; that is why in its hands criticism becomes 
a deadly weapon instead of a useful instrument. The 
danger does not lie in the method of criticism, but in 
its one-sided use, in the absence of that healthy balance 
which is supplied by contact with the religious life. 
""O/mhoi- opolui yiyfojo-KETai." The atmosphere in which 
the whole of the Scriptures and of the Patristic writings 
arose is the same as that in which the Sldhu lives : 
prayer., belief in miracle, heroism — to sum up, it is 
"life in heaven," Historical research which is not 
steeped in this atmosphere lacks the essential mental 
equipment for understanding the object of its study ; 
it can only sketch a caricature of Hebrew and Early 
Christian history. And a systematic theology which 
starts from a quite different view of the world will 
always give a wrong twist to its descriptions of the 
essence of Christianity and of its fundamental truths. 
Sundar Singh has laid his finger upon the weakest spot 
in modern theology. His criticism is painful, but it 
points us back to that kind of theology which the great 
Declares estlesiae and the Reformers taught, a theology 
learnt "at the Master's Feet," 

261 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

The Western Church, as well as Western theology, 
can learn much from this Indian Christian disciple. 
His whole life and activity enforce one of his ruling 
ideas : ecclesiastic ism and Christianity are not the same 
thing. It is true that in his complete independence of 
the visible Church there is a one-sidedness which cannot 
be considered normal for the ordinary Christian life ; 
but, on the other hand, it is striking to see how a 
Christian disciple, without any closer connection with 
institutional religion, solely on the strength of his frOf 
intercourse with Christ, is able to achieve the greatest 
and most wonderful things. The Sadhu's example 
warns us very forcibly against all ovcrestimation of 
ecclesiastical institutions and organisations. He himself 
once said to the Archbishop of Upsala : 



" I value order and principle, but not too much organisation. I do 
not bcltevc in the organisation which you have in the Wat. Here foil 
cVcri plift a programme for God Hiiiiielt in order to show Him how 
He ought to guide the affairs of the world and of the Church." And 
to Pastor Lauierbucg of Switzerland he mid : " Cburcliianity is not 
Christianity. God is a God of Order, but the order ona.*t agree with 
the leading of the Holy Spirit ; otherwise it will be useless." 



The salvation of the Church does not lie in organisa- 
tion, nor in the assiduous cultivation of Church fellow- 
ship. The Sadhu himself discovered on his missionary 
journeys through the West that belonging to a Church 
and holding a correct attitude towards dogma in no way 
always coincided with living fellowship with Christ. 

"There are many in the Christian Church who tnow a great dell 
about Christ, yet inwardly they are dried up ; Christ does not live in 
their hearts." "To many Western Christians Christ Would say : ' I 
have a place in your churches, but I bnVB no place in yoilT hearts ; you 
offer Me eui outward service in a church because you have never lived 
with Mc' " 

262 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR 5INGH 
Sundar Singh's personality and his message have also 
peculiar significance for the unity of the Christian 
Churches, towards which most Christian bodies are 
striving to-day. Were Sundar Singh's pure devotion 
to Christ alive in all Christian hearts, then the external 
way to unity would be open, and indeed to a unity 
in faith. To the divided and conflicting Protestant 
Churches, communions and sects, Sundar Singh is a 
perpetual exhortation to unity and an example of 
brotherly love ; to the Roman Church, on the other 
hand, Sundar Singh is able to show that the unity of the 
whole of Christendom is not to be attained along the 
path of uniformity and organisation, but solely through 
communion with Christ. 

" It Is 1 great pity that many Roman Cathnlica care more about the 
Church than about Christ, who is the Head of the Church They 
prize the .hell but neglect the kernel, they defend the Church, but not 
the Head Himself." 

Sundar Singh's life and activity contradict the state- 
ment of the Roman Catholic catechism that it is only 
the Roman Church which produces saints, whereas 
the other Christian communions " can show no saints 
whose reality has been sealed by the mark of the Divine 
approval through miracles." The SSdhu belongs to 
Evangelical Christianity. In his individualistic spiritual 
attitude, and in his refusal to acknowledge any eccle- 
siastical authority, he is a thorough Protestant. And 
yet this Protestant embodies very wonderfully the 
Catholic ideal of perfection ; indeed, one may say more 
than this : " In his lifetime he seems (as SBderblom 
says frankly) to fulfil the four classic conditions for 
canonisation. Millions of men venerate him as a revela- 
tion of purity and goodness which is more than human. 
He is an outstanding example of Christian love and 

263 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 
humility. Miracles are connected with him, although 
he himself lays no special stress on the miraculous 
element in his narratives, but rather by miracles he 
means the experience of God's close Presence in mercy 
and in power in poor human hearts. He exhibits also 
that continual joy which Benedict XIV added to the con- 
ditions of canonisation. To no one now living could 
all these conditions apply more fully than to this simple 
Evangelical in the saffron robe of an Indian ascetic." 

In fact, many Roman Catholic theologians have paid 
3 tribute of recognition and of admiration to the Sadhu. 
A French theologian, indeed, writing under the name of 
"Cecile Garons," has written most enthusiastically 
about Sundar Singh as a " second St. Paul." He sees 
in him the mark of the Divine approval, in that he has 
begun " to reform the Reformation " by " bringing 
back into Protestantism the mystical and supernatural 
life," thus preparing the way for reunion with Rome — 
" a Pope could not speak otherwise." 

" Will Sandar Singh one day become a Catholic t God alone knows. 
But 1 tarn, very wi-11 tea! 00 the day ho became a Catholic lie would 
lose all influence over Protestants. They would no longer liatai to him, 
and he would be Called a visionary and a fanatic. I believe that he is 
a St. Paul, sent to the Gcnn'les of hereay; he is preparing the way, 
whether tie time be near or distant, for the general return uf Protesranta 
to (he one Fold." 

That which the Sadhu has to show to Western 
Christendom is the lost treasure hid in the field, the 
precious pearl, the Gospel of Christ in its simplicity, 
greatness, and power. So many Western Christians do 
not find this treasure ; others look at it but fail to 
recognise its worth and throw it away. On one occasion 
the Sadhu said to some Western Christians : 

" Vou are like a man who had a diamond, and did not know how 
valuable it was. He thought it was just an ordinary jewel, so he sold 
Z&4 






. 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUNDAR SINGH 

it without further ado 10 the Hirst man who offered him a. few rupew. 
I.iut ■■!! i'-' It'.irm thai n wa-- :i diamond, worth a h.K0d$ed dmuMld 
rupees, and hn lainc-riU/d bitterly in these words t ' ll was -1 diamond* 
and I thought it was only an ordinary pieaou rtora ■ What a tool I 
hsve been » sell it ! ' He tried Lo iini the man to whom he had sold 
it, but It ifii then loo late." 

So many Western Christians have lost all sense of 
the wonder of the Gospel. Wo rl dim ess and scepticism, 
rationalism and dogmatism, have clouded their vision. 
Sundar Singh, the Christian disciple of the East, has a 
rare power, such as few possess, to open their eyes. 
Those who follow the course of his life and listen to 
his message find that the Gospel can bring to a restless 
bean the peace of Christ, '* Heaven upon earth." 
• * * • » 

The veteran Presbyterian missionary, Dr. Wherry, 
who has known the Sadhu from his childhood and has 
followed his development for twenty years, calls him 
" the most wonderful evangelist of this century," " the 
greatest outstanding personality of the Church of the 
present day." Some people may consider this an 
extravagant judgment, but it is undeniable that Sundar 
Singh is an evangelist both to the East and to the West. 
He has, in fact, a double message: for India, that in 
spite of much precious wealth she has not yet found 
the pearl of great price, the Gospel pearl ; and for the 
Christian West, that she indeed possesses this precious 
pearl, but that it has been almost lost amidst the heap 
of accumulations made by theology, Churchy and culture. 
The Sadhu is a true herald of ihis message, since he not 
only proclaims it but lives it out in his lift-, Humanity 
needs such prophets. Once when an English clergyman 
asked Mahatma Gandhi how Christianity could become 
a power in India, the latter gave as the first requirement : 
" All you missionaries and Christians alike must begin 

165 



5ADHU SUNDAE. SINGH 

to live as Christ lived." In a similar vein Rabindranath 
Tagore wrote to a young English clergyman who fftl 
hoping to become a missionary in India : " The sin 
of every Christian should be to become like Chii« 
. . * you cannot preach Christ until you have begoa 
to be like Christ yourself ; and then you will not preach 
Christianity, but the Love of God which He reveals." 
That which the two greatest men of present-day [adil 
regard as the ideal for Christian Missions h the lift-iJr;il 
of Suridar Singh, an ideal which he has translated into 
practice. In a sermon in Switzerland he said t " When 
Christians are like their Lord, then they witness to 
Him in their lives before others," And to the Ardi- 
bishop of Upsala he said : 

"We Indian! do not want a doctrine, Hot even a religions doctrine, 
we have enough and more than enough of that Jtind of thing ; wc an- 
tired of doctrines. We need tim Living Christ. India wants peopL- 
who will not only preach and teach, but workers whosg whole iife and 
temper is a revelation of Jam Christ." 

These words of the Sldhu's apply not only to India, 
but to the West. In these words he expresses what 
he is himself, and what he desires to be — a follower of 
Jesus Christ. As such he summons us and all Chris- 
tians, in the words of Paul : 

"Be ye imitators of me as I also am of Chrlst/' 



L 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



I. Writings ano Addae»E9 OF the Sadku 

Maitah i Masih atL Sddhu Sundar Singh Sd&iL Lucknow, 192 1. 
At the Muster's Feet. Translated from ihc Urdu by Mrs. Arthur 

Patter. Madras, 1913- 
Rea/iry and Religion. Meditations on God, Man and Nature, by Sidhu 

SuTidar Singh. With an Introduction by Canon Streeler. London, 

Macmillan, 1924. 
Tie Search after Reality. Macinilkn, London, 1924- 
Dat &utken naci Got!, Qedanken Hfor Hindulisrus^ Buddhiimai, It/am 

and Chrinentam. Ubctscm urid erlinlert von Friedrich Hefcr. 

MQneh.cn (ReirJutdt), 1935. 
Meditations on Various Aspects of the Spiritual Life. London, Ma.c- 

iniilan, 19x5. 
Fiiiaxs of the Spiritual Wsrid. A brief description of the Spiritual Life, 

its different stiles of existence, and the destiny of good and evil 

rcenasscen in Visions. With a Foreword by the Bishop of Lahore. 

London, Macoillan, 1926. 
Seven Addresses by Sidiiu Sundae Singh. Kandy, 1919. 
Sottl-Stirring Mtitagtl. A collection of the sermons and savings of* Sadhu 

Sundar Singh. Compiled and edited by Alfred Zahir. Agra, 1920 
Six Addreisef, delivered at Colombo. 1920. 
Id mrwtffltmi pahianee de la iii/e, par Sunder Singh. Allocution a 

IWmblee annuclle de k Societe" bihllque brilanniqut et e'trangere i 

Londrcs, trad, pat C. Mey'jru Lausanne, 1922. 
bUShu Sundar Singh : Aai itirrtn Ride* in der SeAtveiz, hsg. ram 

Sdnraze* Hiliskoiiiircu iur die Mission in Indlen, 3 Hefts. Ziirich, 

1922. 
Beitachtung Uttd Gf&rt t Ansprnche des Sadhu in Leipzig, nbgcdrfkkt 

VerJagsktalojj der Buchhiuidlung Bertelsmann, GBtersloh, 1913, 

aaff. 
Qverfsdcrtdc Liv, Sju predikniagar aP Sutidar Singh', JfinJifiping, Sirenska 

Alhansmissioncns lurkig. igjl. 
Sayings of Sddia Sxndur Singk tohiie in Smtxtrlasd- " The Lausanne 

ai:d Neochttd English Magazine," [$I2. (Undated extract.) 

167 



— - 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

A'eae Mtnuken. Vier Ken fir mat ions red en von Pfairer Lauterburp la 
Saancn itnd trine Aasp tactic von Sldhu Sundai Sisigh. Tliuii 
(SiampBi), 1921, 

Sermon preached al the Kjttwfefe Convention in 1911. Par Chriit /t 
pear Chr'nt. DJscours du Sadhnu Sundar Singh, 2eme edition, 
ddJtd par le Secretariat de la Mission sUISsc 11UI hides. Lausanne, 
1913. 

Semens and Styingi vf Ssndar Singh daring hit t'itii is she Khmia Hi/It, 
Assam, March 11/34, Compiled and published by ]. Helen Row- 
lands and Hridesb Ranjin Chose, Welsh Minion, Sy]hct, Assam, 
1924. 



II. KlUd-KAl-HlCAL SKETCHES AND LoHCEl WolIS 

Alfred Zahtt : A Lovtr ef lit Cms. Being the story of the devoted 
Src and nti-^ionary labours of ^adhu Sundar Singh, the itinerating 
Christian Fiiar and evangelist of the Punjab. Revised edition. 
Agra, 1918, 
Alfred Zdliir : Til Aptfic of the Binding Fit!. Art account of the 
devot<».rf life and work of 53dhu Sunder Singh, the Faquir evangelist 
of North India. Agra, 1919. 
Sunder Singh, tie Apoult of the Binding Fees. A sketch of die life 
and work of one of India's great evangelists, giving Some of his 
adventures, in the Forbidden Lindi. Edited by Brenton T_ Badley, 
Chicago, Illinois. (Undated.) (Reprinted from the first edition 
of Alfred Z-tlur, A Ltf/f of the Cms, 1917.) 
Mrs. Arthur (Rebecca) Parker: Badrait Mastht Sddhu Sundara Simia 
jf hi jfoa&s f&ritra. Christian Literature Society. Allahabad, 
totg. 
Mrs. Arthur (Rebecca) Parker : SJhiM Sddhu Sun Jar Singh hi zinJagi. 
Christian Literature Socictv for India. 5th edition, Allahabad, 
1919. 
Mrs. Arthur (Rebecca) Parlor : Sddhu SvnJar Singi, Called of God. 
Christum Literature Society for India. 5th edition. Madras, 1924. 
B, II. Sttwtier iild A. J. Appasimy : The Sddhu. A study in Mysticism 

and Practical Refigkn. London, Macmillan, [921. 
O. Pfister : Dit Leg/nJe Sattjar Singh. Einc fluf EritfiQUruigen 
protestantise her Augenzcupen gegrllndete religinnapyehoJogUthie 
UlttMJndiung. Heme (P. liaupt), 1916. 
P. BrannJidi, Sandttr Singh in seiner zoahrm Geitc/f. Leipzig, Ungelenlt, 
1 027 (contending that Survdar Singh, a a deliberate impostor)* 
168 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Der Sddhu, Chrisli Mys'U in efrtr tnJische* Stele, volt Stl) 

AppaaU, ut*. v.m P. Baltzcr. nit dnem GetdWOfl - " 

biachofvon Upaala. Stuttgart-Goths, Perthes, 1921. 

Ma, Server: MM. tomtkrSilgl K «* ™8l»J» Bj dj « -J 
njundliehen MilteiU»g*B bearb.ttct, 5 Aufl.. bfc *0* tolKfr 

XeS.l«n SdartU*! der kanareatschen evangel,^!, u, 

in Indien. Zurich und GQlcrilc-h (Bextebntann). 1922. 

Nathan Sfiderblom : W«r Singhs hudikaf *tgi*et oeh Selytt. Stock- 
holm, 1923. 

Fricdrkh Hciler: A»U*l edtr Better. Dnkumentc 7jim Skdku- 
,.«! n\L TL*m Gdc.tw.rt von EkbUdwf Soderbbm. Mlbtchc. 
(E. Rciulurclt), l9 a S* 



NE 



CoWCESfftKC tub Mahahuhi op Kailaj 



Mr : S«rf f» Sin*. (Being the mtT of the life and jpiritual 
observation* of the Old Stint m the fLnmhyas.) Ag«, 1919. 
UlUruM von K*il*t, m jctzt itocfa «nd bi ? ^r Wiederkitnft Christ! 
lebender Jl9 j.hre alter t^ip* Mann und etLehe semer wunder- 

Singh, de» E n Berliner EfxahJflag* ^chgeehrteben hig. mi 
OsLtl Liebler, ChH«l. Sdififtenvcm.eb j. Maar. femberg, 191). 
[Not authentic ; m eitract 1mm Z»kir ; Save* to Serve., 

IV. EasArs and StJoaTEP. A«tici.ei 

Dr. C. W. Th. Baton van BoCtteluf : SAN* $«*d*r Singh. 0«t- 
gecit, 19H- 

Belle M. Brain : Saw&r Singh, tadidl Chrhtian Sddiu. "The Mis- 
sionary Review uf the World," 19", 289 ff. 

C, W. Emmet : The Miracle; ,f Sddhu Sunltr Singh. " The Hibbert 
Journal," 19, 308 S". 

Cecile Garons (Pwudonym) : U* &«Wtt f vtnff**** f 7**1 C 'iriH 

Sl.^Amand, Cher, Mai 1925. 
L, de Grandma : U $#*** SnnM Singh tt le f^lime de /ctjintett 
Aon it I'&ise tathe/iouc. " SfecL de Sc«a«l Relig-eu^, l^ZX. 

i£ 

W H(,id«m) : P*r**tU** SindrUeie von SMh* Su*d*r Srngi. Der 
Kirchenfretmd," Zilrich, 193^ Hg * , 






SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 



H. Hostee, S. J. : SMI* {»,,„ Siwgl. The " Catholic Herald or 
Wi." '9 s ). +"9^-- 435 IT-. 45= E Again the Kaila.h Rishi, 
CH 1923, 46; ff. We .re Sir, or The Happy Meeting of rhi 
Rishi, Sundar Singh, A. Zaliir. a Padre, A.M.R.D., and the 
Messiah, CH 1923,49217., 526 ff., 541, C90, 606 f. Two 
BraKiliam, the Magi and Sundar Singh, CH 1923, 6a I f 651 f 
669 f„ 689, 706, 7i, f, 7;] f, 768!., 7 6Sf. SHhu SimJar 
Singh and Vlsrma Mm, CH 1923, 793!. Sundar Sinsh |V 
Truumanirgus, CH [924, t 7 f_ 34 f, 49 f„ 66, 82, 96 f. 
Sundar Singh's Forty Dap' Put and Dr. Swift, the Franciscan 
CH 1924, tijf., t 2 «r., I 4 sf, 162 r„ I78f„ i 93 f„ 208I, 
2l6f., 241 f., 237 f., 173, 2«9''-. 3<J5 f.. I'll-, JjSf., 1(31 
Sidhu Sundar Singh, CH 292,-, 39, 5;. Sundar Singh". Forty 
Martyu of Scbule, CH 1925, 135. Sundar Singh's Crucifiaian 
at !bm (1914). CH 1925, 1 s 1 f„ 183 rr. Sldhu Sundar Singh, 
CH 1925, 215, ajr f. 

Friedticli v. Huge! 1 Dir Mytlittr **J Jl, Kirtlt, **, jt,/a„ J„ SMI*. 

Hochland." December 1924— 25. 
hi. Kienrr : Suisjjr Sisgl (Auf Gnind penonlicher Erlebnissc), "Del 

ILirchcnfrcund," hsg, vom schweiaerisch-evatigelischen Kitchen- 

vetein, 1922, 307 fT, 342 ff, 

Mai Meiueru: SMI* S.Wif Slitfl. Kshitche Volksieitune, 1024 
Nr. 342 und 364. * 

W. MODtr ; oWsr S!*fl, Jn- PUger. Stuttgart, evangelisdier Mis- 
siondvcrlag, 1922, 

Wilfred Monod [ U Udlm S**Mr Siwgl. " Rente d'Histoite it 

de philosophic tcligieujc." Strassburg, 1922, 454 tT. 
D. Pierson : Sundar Sixgt, the Cirhtias SMI*. " The Missionary 

Review of the World," 10.20, 6u£ 
O. Pfwer ; SniJar Siirgl anf Aldfr/ Silwtilztr, rwei Missi'onare und 

zwei Misiionsprogrammc, " iieischiirt Tor Missiomkunde und 

Religicnswiascnschatt " 37, 1922, toff. 
O. Pfistci : Tritirkl htilen " SMIa oWar Singh." " Zeitschiifl 

fur Miwionskunde und Rchgicjist+isscnscbafr," 1924, 135-169. 
T. Schlatter) : Ptn&ilhlt EitJmtit tva SMI* 5Wet Singl. M Det 

Kiichenfreund." Zurich, 1922, it; ff. 
F.rhard Schlund, O.F.M. ! SSM* Smjjt Smgl. " Allgeitlcirie Rund- 

jchan," 1924, 3S S £, abgedrtlcat in Religion. Kiiche, Gc E cnwarl, 

1925, 163 ff. * 

G. Schulemaim : Clria/iclr SUI*t, " Hoehland," 1924, 287 ff. Zum 
Streil urn den Sadhu Sundar Singh, w Hoehland," 1925, 737 ff. 
270 



' 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

C. S(ehule) : PtrtoulkAf EimJnckt van StJhu $t>*Jar Sixgi. (Mit- 

(dlongen lies schwcizemchcti Hittskonrnees Tflr die MiMion Bi 

Indien.) Zilrich, Mai 19Z2. 
Heinrich Sierp, S J„ : SJJAu $**Jsr Shg/r, SJimntx Jer Ztii. 1913-24, 

415-4313. Religions wi&aenscliaft oder Lrg«ideiieraaii!Lil.g f Ein 

weitciM Wort ttfaer l&dhiJ Sundar Singh. Si. di Zt. -9^-^S> 

109-130. Inedrich Heilcr und der SidhiK Si. d. Zt. 1914-35, 

270-281. 
N. SMerblom : Chrinian Mytiifiim ix ox Iwdian Soul. " lntcJB*tit™J 

fievicw of Missions," 19221 z66 ff. 
Evexgttiii Myilik itMindhksjflyi* ■ Tre teifomer ; tfyiii, Jbrtnu**, 

vtttaikap. Sioctliolin, 1913, 1 ff. 
Alfons Vail, B.J. : SdJhu Sum/ar Singi. KatMfrcAt MEitWtM, 1924, 

SiB-2i6. Ntue Foischungen liber SSdhu Sundar Sbgli, KM 

1924-15, 49 ff. Dcr StreiL um den SSdiiu. KM 1924-25, 

256 IF* 290 ff. 
H. C. E. Zachariaa : The IxtatfMfJ «f Prelrrtantiiis in India. An 

Anglian View of Surnkf Sh%h.. l * The CaihiiLc Henli of India," 

1935, 103 ff. 




I 



NOTES 

i Cf. Strreter, p. 4a. 

' SMIv Sunder Stat, Mrs- Parker, p. i?i- . 

1 AtxtttrJ faith. Far material for tlic above tlw author is mainly indebted 
to tltc folifVinc bonks : . .. , 

M A Macaulinc : Tit Sill Rrijt.ir : * Gunu, iVrrr. Wrtimgt W 
Alien mil, Oaforf, iOgo. (Complete Collection of the Stktt Relt£ious 
Docorano.) Ernst Trumpp . Tit MM Grail, or lb Stlj Scnfti.ni if 
II, SiUi, Tun., from the oriein.1 Gurmuklti, with Introductory Essays. 
I.endon 1S77 I. D. Cunningham t A Hitlttrf af tit Still. latiidnn, 1848 
(reprinted 191S1. Kiwati Singh: Plthiyfoml Hilton s/ Silk flr/tipee, 
i vnla, Lahore, iota. Rap Singh : .SosAirw, a I/rtrvrrnrr RtHgtun. AmnlHr, 

10,1. Mi» Field. Tit toSsiM •fit' s>Mj. London, h R~> SB*. 

FHR £ ,oS rT. Frammande I fajMiMu wi na rfff, ore. /V. i.altrMam, rgoa, 
,, 6,S IT. Blonmndd: Tit SIU llrli^ : Snttfa hltt Hutoy <f Rttw*u. 
pmtd to C H. Toy, ,»■=, r6,ft. Oliramaw i i= rlrirjsr. ,fc SMr. 
RllR 61 (191 1). 13 ff- Cshaton : " La Sikh. de L Ink ei k S.khume, 
Kmsae * W AW*™, IS"* oil. IT. Vinson: "La Religion de, 
Sikhs," rVww -Vh MWr nlioatteMir, toon, 631 ft". Etrrlin Carpenter : I ft 
Sikh Religion," H/4*rM J/-™/, „.,-.a, 20. ff. K. Tltiin .« jlfralW 
I..,.,,. London, IS»<. 4>o IT. John Cipb.ll Oman : Ca/U, CsoM.>. W 
SittmUm 4 Mi<t. London, 1008. S, ff. Trja botch , B.r WM4™,jr, W 
m' JWimr «W Mr ftritlltm, turn /™>, CfcinmBui. S Wihitngtca f»r 
freie. Chrbtentum, Frotokoll, 19m ?" If. H. v. Gksenapp: Da SthM lit 
Sunt wrf Or Glaubt " »r KW Orim( " Hdbwiiuclnfi fur .far folliltit. 
Wrt.r'ttflfi*. uW p/iiliifr trim 4u errm.™ OjW>. Berlin, tore, 40, IT. 
C. Clemen: Dit Kttkelriitlkltti Kvltvrrrli&tmtn. Letprig, toil, it. .0 d 

1 Cf. Strceter, pp. 1 ff. ,. 

! The Mln™ account of Sundsr Singh . conversion » taken tonally 
from lib own narrative ; it is footided mainly upon the testimony he gave 
in a sermon atTavinnes (S» iue.land) on the tsl of March, toaa. Cf. Streeter, 

PP i CM C Wifi.ilow,jV 1 irtr!aiTf'fflfltHr7Vii*.r i rCAn"iIid'l PaetafMilirSiitra. 
Calcutta," tjal 1 Charles C. Mooahan, Thttfiilut Subtamm^ui Tlteflilui 
Mnoanat, Wnkjan Methodist Miaiotiary Society, London. 

J According to the ocn«» of 1009 there *ere tn India a,7I!,ooo SldhUI- 
See H. V. Ghsenapp, Btr BmMtmitt Ctitllitlafl t't.l Xtiigvtn tm ititligt* 
Inctiert. Monicls, 1913. 

i See F. L Weatern, " Hindo mid Christian Sadhciiin. InttrmitteMt Kwrrto 
e/ Mim'tm, to. toao. Animlnanda BrahmachSri, Svim Eralmtlbattiilav 
L^fK/^tfyu, Calcotta, 190S. , 

I TVday there are quitca nnmbcr of Claislian SJdhus. Mr. Redman writes : 
" FroO liine to time I lufe met other Christiana who were livi.i E as Sldiiui. 
But none of them made a lasting knpressinn upon my mud, save perhaps 
Padte Karak Singh, who lived and worked many years afjn in the Punjah, 
! 173 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

M StrWtW, p. II. 

'» Strcetor, pp. 34 if. Cf. with Gamdhi's statement : ™ For me nothing i* 
rj purifying as a fesr. ... A fast which k undertaken with the object ,,1 
giving expression to one 1 intrust self, and in order that the spin! 11: 
the body, is a powerful element in the development nf JHHOIUBW." 

11 CF. Adrien Lamuy, Hi stare dt la Million tin Thibet. f-iifc t Pari*. 
R. E. Hue, Le Ckriitianism; m CAitr, ra Tarterir el un Thibet. Paris, 18*7, ii. 
Herrmann auf der Bride, Missiojugrschichte Chinas u. stiatr HtittMlAtdttt. 
Tibet, Mongoiti stmi IfrnirilMTihtnifii Sleyl, :Bj7, 98 ft. 
■3- Siiwwr, p, 44- 

■4 "Sayings of Sundar Singh while in Switzerland" (TWr Lausanne an,/ 
NtiKhdiei Magazine, ton) t "Gandhi and Tagorr would have breome 
Christians if they had not visited Europe." 

is In autumn 1935 he neatly bit the sight of one eye through trachoma 1 
he also suffers much from heart trouble. In December ijie He wasdangen.u*ly 
ill, and for a time his life was despaired of. Unable to do evatgelistic work, 
the Sadhu ha* bMypfcd himself with writing- two valuable little book*. 
MfJUaiMBf and Visions, and in this way he is passim? on to his friends in 
India and all over the world the menage which bus come to him. 

»* Smwrcr, p. too. 

1 Sttwter, pp. tB, 93-94. 

■■ Cf. Strcetcr, pp. ico-156. 

'J Stieeler, pp. 69 ff. 

" C£. Strccter, pp. 74 ff. 

» Cf. Strcetcr, pp. 11S ff. 

« Streeter, pp. 304. ff. 

') Cf. Streeter, pp. 196 Jf. 

M After the death of his father (1913} the SadHu gave up the twneaeN 
life of absolute poverty which he had lived for eighteen years. With the 
money which his father left him he boupjhl an old house, in acenrri.i! ■ .1!. 
his father's cspress desire. One of Sundir Singh's friends. Dr. Peoples [a 
medical man), settled down in the house with his family and looked after 
the Sadhu, who w.is in bad health. In 1535 Sgiidar Singh, bought another 
mission house, where He is now staying with Hi? friend's family. In hii will 
he has given instructions for this house to be used for missionary work in the 
Himalayas. 



A full list of references to all the quotations L 
to the German edition. 



this book k to be found 



v* 



INDEX 



Adigranth, ; ; 

AkaM Movement, a-j 

Amritsar, Golden Temple, it, jj 

Angad, servant of Nflnak, 21 

Aquinas, St. Thomas, 1 Jlj 119 

Ariun, a 1, 12,15,16,17, 339 

Assisi, St. Francis of, icfi, 10S, 13 

144, 167, 107 
Augustine, St., 106, iji, l*j f IOI 



Bahadur, Teg, 11 
Bhakti— 

devotion of, 19 

of oiedia-vaj; period, in, 17 

speculative tendency of, 1 39 

poems, 29 
Bubine, Jakobj 193^ 107 

Bnn-iviMitur;(, St., I4J 

Brahma band hav Upidhjiya, $fi, 63, 
altt 120 
views on caste, 1+5, 148, 149, 150 
Krah maoism, 19 



Calvin, 131 

Catharine of Genoa, St., id8 t iui 
Christianity in India, need for theo- 
logical synthesis, 146 ff. 
Clement of Alexandria, 19a, zo£, 119 
Clemeot of Rome, an 



Dante, 1U7 

Dm, Amur, 11, 19 

I'.V-, Ram, M 

Dls, K.wi, 1a 

Dciiicatiun, idea nf, 1:; 

Dcv, Nlm, a 1 

Dostoevski', iEj 



Eckbartj Mcistcr, 1 jS, 1 y& 



Farid, 11 

Fox r George-, 20 J 

Frsnckj Sebwtiai 



GranlH, The— 

Sikh holy book, 31 
canon of, a, 
interest in, 14, 371 ag 
teaching on Humility iji, 39 
at Amritsar, 33 
its eclecticism, jj 



personality of, 31 

.glorification of, 33 



Hllgel, Friedrich von, i II. 3tj, 

158 
Hut Goviud, Guru, aa 
Hari, name of, ]1 



JayaxIcTaii Gltagorinda, 17 
Julian f>f Norwich, 13S 
Justin Martyr, 319 

K.lMv. writings of, it. iBS, 
Kad&J-jideaof, aa 
Kierkegnard, aot 
Konin, 13, 29 



Lalita Vistara, Buddhist legend of, 
Lefroy, Bishop, 61 



175 









tNDEX 




SADHQ SUNDAR SINGH 


Suadn Kb 


SlIMl, 1 tft 




Luther, isfi, tjj, 138, 139, 14S, 1+7. 


Scblsiennicfte^ug 


1 ;■.;'. r.-i '-■-. '"!■■ . ', 


SyrLTi Cburehi origin of, m 




148, ttffija 


Sehastc, forty martyrs of, 1 78 


in England, %<-; 






Christ-iUigy uf. 16D1 i&5, i^B, i-fljfc 
£^ I99p 212 


Sikh religion— 

anLTHtr.il faith of Suud-r Sitlglli 

sense of sin in, 39 


in America, Si 
RtKCMtO India, Si 
visits Palestine, Si 
in Switzerland, S3 


Teresa, St., 10S 

Thoiati i Kemp* 81 1 toS, 11I1 <*7 

"1 llyMII. .'!: 

in Gruufa. 36 

Tiihi, p.Lrly liiivi"! ■ 




Macauliffe, Sikh scholar, 35, 16 


Sacraments, of, 34 in Germany, B + 




Maya, idea of, iK 


purity of, 3; in Sweden, 84 


Trent, Council of, 167 




Missions in In«Lu, I3g 


Singh, Goviml, . :■ I ! j n Norway Slid Denmark, E4 






wanl Of succes*of, -^9-3- 


iailiatJ&n 1 ite by, 54 ; n Holland, 85 






Europeaniiatiaiii 330 


Singh, meaning of name* 33 second visit to Eb(£ 


. l-v-dyn, its, *J3 




cute and, 244 


Singh, Raajit, 14 si^nincancecf hii .visits to Euffrpfe 








Soderbbni, 308, l]l, 332.154 Sfff. 

Sufi — connection with Canon Stfeeter, 


Vcdanta, mystical wisdom of, 19* 19 




Ninak— 

founder or Sikh religion, io, 3$, 16 
prayer of, 27 »8, 59 

spirituality of, 30 


mysticism, aj 

writing*, 39 

Sunckr Singh— 


108 
experience at Risar, 114-15 
pciwer of healing, 1B0 
unity of, 183 


Vedas, 33, 33 
Wlieriy, Dr„ ji» 53 




leaching oil the Divine Namr> 31, 


binh of, 37 


significance for Christian Mission* 






161,107,139 


father of, 37 


in India, 246 


Yoga, discipline of, ig 




NfiO'PIaConi&m, 16+ 


mother of, j t 

influence of his Jtlolher, 3S 






Nwibis, St. Jauaw of, 17S 








death of hii mother, }8 






Oltraiaare, deBoEi Sikh religion, 19 


conversion, 4] 






Origeni 193 


conversion, nature of, 49 
persecutinn of, jo 
driven from home, ;- 






Pantheism — 


poisoned, 53 






in the Grandl, :$", jfi, 3I 


baptism of, J4 






Pascal, 134 


adopts life of a Sidhu, 57 






F|[>linii4, 111 


become* a sjidhu, 57 






Purina, U 


studies at Lahore, 60 
resigns preacher's licence, 6 1 






Redman, Mr., 4 6 


begin* fab fast, 61 
nubs of & 






: mwrj at Simla, 54 


rumoured deith of, 6$ 






hii testimony to Sundae Singh'* 


visits Nepal and Tibet, fifi C 






youthful maturity, i9< 6 S 


meets Miliar is hi of KaMi, 71 67. 
suffering:, at Horn, 7; 






Sidhu, religiuus ideal of, 5 j 


influence in India, 74 






Samsara, idea of, zE 


peculiar temptatiun of, 77 






Sannyasis — 


in Ceylon, 7I5 






asCrtielsm of, 31 


in Straits Settlement, 78—9 






KCKt mission of, 56, fctj ?a, 7J 


in Japan, 70 






Sbmma 


in China, ?9 


277 




276 







CEOKCE ALLEN' ft UNW1N LTD- 

London: 40 Musi.um Struct, W.C t 

Capk Town: 73 St. GkhmiVJ Stukw 

HvDMStv, N.S.W, : Wvktud Square 

W WLI.IJ11JTOH, N.Z. : 4 Wilms St kbit 



Indian Philosophy 



By s. radhakrishnan 

fieorte V Profeeioi «r PHoofly i" tie VttowtoT °t Cteiitli 

Dimivt. ni.ll. '5* 

important devel,, r mei,t. in cipnundett in » IB ' SKir W». i" .1 »» 
i, well documented and is rcesrdrf by onxU a he ™* «r ■ 
lucid eepuulloii Oi the.o alnlroic sy«™s. Tie ducuaaions are nol only 
ol academic, but ol contemporary interest. 

The Hindu View of Life 

By S. RADHAKRISHNAN 

Cr era B>W LkWV, OxfirJ, Vp& I* 

• The matter of the IctUre,, „n lit. pMleWrtl of M |,"** m ' ™,f°; 

fn J, important earn ,„tu.-,ny. m.J M •".""'"g, ™L" 

The Kingdom of Happiness 

Bv J. KRISHNAMURTI 

T,*t. Era. mi» PA'Vt* 1 , , , 3 '' 6 ,' 

Thi, book i< eacerlv awded by many I l.oii'andi ol Ihniipldl.d people 

sSsSsse ISs2 5 sS 

idol, who has hi* own goal to follow. 

An Uphill Road in India 

OB*. By M. L. CHR1STL1EB ,«...*.. 

ii ore dlra. live hccauie Inn Ibc.oe of the picture « human nature «n 

^r.rL'S^S 1,'S'n ^ AT* "A a , li ndVVc ± 

..].■';' :'<>. ... ■ ■■'- 
LONDON. GEOKOE Al.LKN * S2J S J^ 
SilUS HOUK, ,o HUSE011 SI'REtT. W.C.I. 



I